Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lemon Coconut Cream Caramel Nut Clusters

Lemons...they make everything taste better! I love lemons, especially in a dessert or snack. They are so refreshing and always make the snack a great pick-me-up. Especially on a hot summer day, lemon bars are one of my favorite go-to snacks but they are quite laborious to make. So sometimes I settle for a store bought lemon coconut water. Then I thought why don't I come up with a quick and easy no-fuss snack recipe that celebrates the wonderful flavors of lemon and coconut. 

These delightful lemony coconutty clusters are so refreshing that you really can't stop at just having one! They are dangerous! And I am hoping they can win the hearts of the judges at the Snackable Recipe Contest, sponsored by So Delicious Dairy Free and hosted on the Go Dairy Free website.

Yield: Makes about 30 clusters

Prep time        : 5 mins
Cook time       : 30 mins


Coconut Cream Caramel
½ cup So Delicious culinary coconut milk (original)
½ cup honey
1½ tablespoon coconut oil
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1½ tablespoons lemon juice

Nut Clusters
1 cup slivered almonds
½ cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons lemon zest


To make coconut cream caramel sauce:

1. In a deep small to medium size sauce pot, brown honey over medium low heat for about 6 minutes until honey become a nice darker brown. Stir with a wooden spoon periodically for even browning.

2. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk, coconut oil and sea salt. Using a whisk, combine thoroughly and return pot over medium low heat. Cook for 15 minutes, whisking regularly to reduce caramel sauce to a thick consistency.

3. Add lemon juice and whisk to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl to cool to room temperature.

To make nut clusters:

1. In a shallow saute pan, over medium heat, toast slivered almonds and shredded coconut until fragrant and slightly brown. About 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from pan into a mixing bowl and stir in lemon zest.

2. If caramel sauce was made ahead of time, remove caramel from fridge and microwave on high for about 45 seconds to melt before adding to nut mixture. Using a spoon, stir to combine well.

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop teaspoon-size nut clusters onto the baking sheet. Refrigerate nut clusters for at least 4 to 5 hours before placing each one of them into a mini baking cup.

Recipe notes and tips:
The caramel sauce taste better when it is allowed to sit in the fridge overnight. So make it the night before or ahead of time if you can. It cuts down the amount of time you need the next day to put everything together too!

Check out other delicious dairy free recipes and snack recipes on So Delicious Dairy Free and Go Dairy Free websites.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Morel Mushrooms with Pan-Seared Potatoes

Morel mushrooms...one of the most fragrant mushrooms in my opinion. But like most good things, fresh morel mushrooms are rare. They are usually available during the spring season and they are usually found in the wild and not farmed. And hence even during spring time, only a few grocers might bring them in or you can only find them at farmers' markets.

The dried ones are available all year round though. They are still nice but for me, they just can't match up to the flavour and texture of their fresh counterparts. This spring, I chanced upon some fresh morels at the local grocer and so.....at a wimp, I bought a handful. It was going for almost $50 a pound.

Morels are so flavourful that they don't really need too much seasoning to taste heavenly. So I got so Yukon gold potatoes, diced them up and simply pan-seared them with the fresh morels. Add a bit of salt and pepper and I got a plate of deliciousness!

Ingredients (appetizer for 2):
1. Handful of fresh morel mushrooms (about 4 to 6 ounces), halved or quartered
2. 1.5 cups small diced Yukon gold potatoes
3. 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil 
4. Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium to high heat.
2. Add potatoes and pan-sear until slightly golden brown around the edges. Season lightly with salt and pepper. This will take a little bit of time. Be patient. Undercooked potatoes are not good eats.
3. Add fresh morels and saute for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
4. Serve warm!

Tip: If you have fresh herbs on hand, feel free to add some fresh thyme or parsley in there. Will be even more perfect!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kale with Lemongrass

Kale is one of my favorite leafy greens. There are quite a few varieties that are readily available almost year round at the grocery stores and I love them all! If I have to pick a favorite, I would pick Lacinato Kale. This variety of kale is heartier than the green or red kale and is very good for saute. The green and red kale has more tender leaves and is also good for eating raw in salads. You can also lightly steam them before using them in a salad recipe. Any way you prepare them, kale is wonderful. And they are really good sources of Vitamin A, B6, C and K, potassium and magnesium.

Yield: 5 to 6 servings

1.      5 cups kale, chopped
2.      1½ cups carrots, julienned
3.      1 cup mushrooms, sliced
4.      2 stalks spring onion, sliced at an angle
5.      ½ cup water
6.      1 stalk lemongrass
7.      5 cloves garlic
8.      1 inch cube ginger
9.      1 medium shallot
10.   1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
11.   Salt and pepper to taste

1.    Place lemongrass, garlic, ginger and shallot in a food processor and grind till fine.
2.    In a pan over medium high heat, heat oil and sauté mushrooms and carrots until mushrooms are soft and slightly brown. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
3.    Add lemongrass mixture and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes until fragrant. Season with another pinch of salt and pepper.
4.    Add kale and water and cook to slightly wilt. About 3 minutes. Season further with salt and pepper to taste.
5.    Turn off heat and add spring onions.
6.    Serve warm with rice or as a side dish.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetables Salad

Quinoa is a delicious and wonderful grain from South America. It has been relatively unknown until recent years. Not only has it become very popular here in the US, it is now also available in many other parts of the world including Asia. Restaurants from fine dining and casual family chain to fast food joints are starting to introduce quinoa on their menu is one way or another. The other day, my boyfriend and I were at the Cheesecake Factory for a very late night snack and guess what we got! A kale and quinoa salad! See what I mean....

Quinoa is the only plant-based food that provides a complete source of protein (i.e. all 9 amino acids). Since going onto a primarily plant-based diet, quinoa has become one of my key sources of healthy plant-based protein besides tofu.

This dish is nutritionally complete as a meal on its own. The sweetness from the honey complements the slight tang from the spicy mustard perfectly. Yummy both warm and chilled, this is the perfect dish to make in a larger quantity for dinner with leftovers to pack for a healthy lunch the next day.

Preparation time : 30 minutes
Cooking time : 30-40 minutes

Yield : Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients (Salad):
1.   1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
2.      4 cups cucumber, skin on, 1-inch dice
3.      3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4.      2 cups rainbow carrots, 1-inch dice
5.      1 cup yellow bell pepper, 1-inch dice
6.      1 cup edamame beans, cooked till tender
7.      0.5 cups dried cranberries, rough chopped
8.      0.5 cups slivered almonds
9.      0.25 cups oregano, basil and sage, fine chopped

Ingredients (dressing):
1.      0.25 cups fresh lime juice
2.      3 tablespoons honey
3.      1 teaspoon mustard
4.      1 cup olive oil
5.    1 whole head fresh garlic (roasted in oven for about 45 mins in foil, then mashed)
6.      1.5  teaspoon salt
7.      1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1.    Preheat oven to 475F to roast garlic. While oven is preheating, cut off the top of a whole head of garlic, drizzle in a little olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for about 45 minutes.
2.    Next cook quinoa. Bring to boil 3 cups of water and quinoa. Then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 15 to 20 minutes until all water has been absorbed. Then remove from heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
3.    While quinoa is cooking, prepare other vegetables – cucumber, tomatoes, carrots and bell pepper.
4.    Lay vegetables (ingredients 2 to 5) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Season with a little salt and pepper and olive oil and roast in oven for 30 minutes. You can place it in the same oven as the garlic. There should be more than 30 minutes left on the clock for the garlic.
5.    Now make dressing. Whisk all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well combined and a temporary emulsion forms. Set dressing aside.
6.    Transfer quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Then add cooked edamame beans, slivered almonds and cranberries.
7.    Remove roasted vegetables and garlic from oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes.
8.    Then add roasted vegetables to quinoa and mix well to combine. Add roasted garlic to dressing and whisk well to combine.
9.    Then add dressing and chopped herbs to quinoa salad and toss well to combine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grilled Squid with Spicy Roasted Potato and Broccolette Salad

I have always enjoyed well prepared squid from time to time but I am not crazy about them because of too many bad experiences with overcooked squid. But as I wonder down the produce aisle at the grocery store today, I saw some really fresh and pretty looking squid. I had to get them. I didn't know what to do with them then but this is what I ended up making. The rest of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen and I put together this quick and easy week-night dish. It is not only yummy-licious but also a healthy complete meal with protein, carbohydrates and vegetables (something green ;)).

The interplay of the different textures from the crispy roasted potatoes and the soft fresh squid was so delightful in every mouthful. You have to try this. I guarantee happy faces! Serve this as a one dish meal or an appetizer or just a healthy quick snack...

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30-40 mins

Yield: Serves about 4 to 6 

Ingredients (for salad):
1.       1.5 lb potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2.       1 teaspoon chilli powder
3.       1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4.       1 teaspoon salt
5.       2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
6.       10 oz fresh squid, sliced into 1-inch strips
7.       1 lb broccolette, cut into about 1-inch florets and stems
8.       Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients (for dressing):
1.       3 tablespoons lemon juice
2.       5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3.       1 teaspoon mustard
4.       Salt and pepper to taste

1.   Preheat oven to 425F.
2.    Combine chilli powder, ground black pepper, salt and 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil in a mixing bowl and pour over potatoes and toss well to combine. Lay potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in oven for 30 minutes.
3.    On another baking sheet, lay broccolette and season with a little salt and pepper and roast in the same oven for about 20 minutes.
4.    While potatoes and broccolette are roasting, cut squid and dry completely with paper towels.
5.    Heat up a sauté pan or grill pan with the rest of the grapeseed oil and grill squid for about 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook the squid because it will become rubbery. Once the squid turns opaque, it is cooked and ready. Remove from the pan as they become opaque and set aside.
6.    Next, make the dressing. Combine all ingredients for dressing in a bowl and whisk well to combine and form a temporary emulsion.
7.    Once the potatoes and broccolette are ready, remove from baking sheet into a large mixing bowl with the squid. Pour dressing over and toss well to combine.
8.    Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fresh Roasted Beet Salad

My boyfriend loves beets. I don't use to cook with beets a lot because they tend to color my cutting board and knife red. But now I do. Not just because my boyfriend loves them but because they are delicious and I found a way to make sure that they don't stain my wooden cookware.

Cooked beets do not "bleed" which means, peel them only after they are cooked. So bake or steam them with their skin on first. Then peel with a fork and the back of a butter knife or steak knife before slicing and using them in whatever dishes you are making.

They are already very yummy on their own like that, after roasting or steaming. Below is a quick and easy way to prepare beets and enjoy the wonderful flavor that mother nature has given them.

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):
1. Fresh red beets (about 3 to 4 medium beets)
2. 1/4 cup fresh mint and basil, chiffonade
3. 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4. 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
5. 1 teaspoon honey
6. Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Trim the top and bottom of each beet and wrap all in aluminium foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake in oven for about 30 minutes.
3. Whisk the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl until well combined.
4. Remove from oven and remove from foil. Peel and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices.
5. Arrange neatly on serving plate. Drizzle dressing and top with fresh mint and basil.
6. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Thai Orange Sesame Wild Rice Salad

This is a slight adaptation to a recipe that I have made before. Instead of ground beef, I am using a pack of original neat. neat is a healthy meat replacement that is soy free and gluten free. The product uses chickpeas and pecans instead of soy. It turn out super duper delish!

This sweet and tangy one dish complete meal is a definite must try. Make a big batch and pack it for a healthy lunch at work!

Ingredients (serves about 6 to 8):
4 cups cooked wild rice
2 cups broccoli, cut into bite size florets
1 cup yellow bell peppers, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup red bell peppers, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup carrots, cut into bite size pieces
1 packet original neat, cooked per package instructions
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Thai basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce (whisk together):
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons tamarind sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1.5 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
0.5teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground pepper 

1. First make sauce by whisking all sauce ingredients together in a bowl until well mixed.
2. Prepare a packet of original Neat per instructions, like ground beef. Then set aside in a large mixing bowl.
3. Prepare a steamer and lightly steam vegetables for until slightly tender but still crunchy (6 to 8 minutes). Add steamed vegetable immediately to Neat in the mixing bowl.
4.Then add chopped Thai basil and sauce and mix well to combine thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
5. Serve warm or room temperature or cold.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stewed Cannellini Beans in Citrusy Tomato Sauce

Cannellini beans are one of my favorite beans. They are creamy and so neutral in flavor that you can can add them to any recipes and they will taste amazing.

This stewed bean recipe is a very easy dish to make on a weeknight or days when you just forgot to run to the grocery store and wants to make a home cook meal. I added a little twist to my recipe by steeping peel/skin from one whole orange in the tomato sauce. The subtle citrus flavor not only brightens the dish but also adds a refreshing depth of flavor to the beans.

Pair this with some brown rice or buckwheat noodles and you have a winning complete meal for a busy weekday! 

Ingredients (serves 4 to 5 as a side dish):
1. 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2. Skin from 1 orange
3. 1/4 cup water
4. 1 can cannellini beans (15 oz)
5. 1 cup fresh herbs (basil and sage), chopped
6. Salt and pepper to taste
7. Extra virgin olive oil, drizzle

1. Heat diced tomatoes, water and orange skin in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. In the meantime, drain and rinse beans.
3. Let sauce simmer for about 5 minutes and add drained beans.
4. Cook over low heat for another 5 minutes before adding fresh herbs. 
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Steamed Edamame and Mushroom Dumplings

Check out another of my award winning recipe! My steamed edamame and mushroom dumplings won the Magnacare Healthy Chef 2014 recipe contest. I was thrilled beyond words when I got the news.

These dumplings are extremely delightful and so easy to make. I made them on a week night after getting home from work. You can either steam them or boil them with some noodles and vegetables for a nice hearty dumpling noodle soup.

I made a bunch of these for the contest and my boyfriend loved them. I still remember him saying "this is a winner hunny" while he munch on these dumplings non-stop. He is such a wonderful supporter....always happy to be my taste tester.

These are really yummy.....the edamame provides the right amount of crunch and the sweet daikon pairs perfectly with the mushrooms and aromatic flavors from the sesame oil, ginger and fresh chives. Be sure to try making them today!

Ingredients (makes about 40 dumplings):
1.       3 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped
2.       2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
3.       1 tablespoon fresh shallot, minced
4.       1 cup fresh daikon, fine diced
5.       3 cups cooked edamame, lightly mashed
6.       2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
7.       1½ teaspoons soy sauce
8.       1½ teaspoons sesame oil
9.       1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
10.   ½ teaspoon ground pepper
11.   Wonton wrappers (about 40 pieces)
12.   Water


1.     In a sauté pan on medium to high heat, sauté mushrooms with garlic and shallots. There’s no need to use oil here because the mushrooms will start to release its own water to prevent sticking to the pan. Sauté until mushrooms are tender about 5 to 8 minutes.

2.    While mushrooms cool to room temperature, prepare other ingredients. Dice daikon and mash edamame beans and mince ginger. Combine edamame beans, daikon and ginger in a medium to large size mixing bowl. Add rest of the ingredients to mixing bowl and mix well.

3.    Set up wonton wrapping station:
a.       Set up a little tray of water (for sealing wontons)
b.      Set aside a plate for placing wrapped wontons
c.       Set aside a teaspoon for scooping filling

4.    Mushrooms should have cooled by now. Add to mixing bowl and mix well.

5.    To wrap wontons:
a.       Please a piece of wonton wrapper on one palm
b.      Spoon about ¾ teaspoon of filling onto the center of the wonton wrapper. Using your index finger, dip into water and lightly wet along all sides of the wonton wrapper. Then fold in half to form a triangle. Make sure to lightly squeeze all air out of the wonton
c.       Pull the 2 corners of the triangle together and seal with water to form the shape as shown in the picture.

6.     Set up a steamer and steam wontons for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dumpling sauce.

I prefer to use bamboo steamers and line them with large leafy greens so that 
everything on the steamer is edible!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cinnamon and Cumin Roasted Carrots

I love summer time! It is one of the best seasons for me to indulge in my kitchen, making simple yet super delicious dishes because the vegetables themselves are at their peak...very flavorful even on their own.

This cinnamon and cumin roasted carrots is one of my all time favorite dishes. Its takes such a short time to make but goes a long way in flavor and nutrition. The warm cinnamon makes it an ideal dish for breakfast....need that kick to start the day right. Also, I prefer to use bunch carrots with intact stalks for this dish because they do look a lot prettier like this. Remember, we eat with our eyes too!

Ingredients (serves 2-3):
1. 7 whole carrots, with the stalk attached and trimmed
2. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3. 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4. 1/8 teaspoon salt
5. 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
6. 1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Mix all seasonings together and rub over cleaned carrots
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread carrots evenly on baking sheet
4. Bake in oven for about 18-20 minutes

Ready to enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Crunchy Green Beans with Mushrooms and Pecans

Here is another take on my green beans with almonds recipe and it is also an award winning recipe with the Royalty Pecan Farms 2014 Recipe Challenge. It was place first in the most healthy recipe category. Try this today for a quick and easy yet flavorful and healthy dinner.

The earthy flavor of the pecans pairs perfectly with the sweet green beans. The mushrooms add a different texture to the overall dish and the always lovely umami flavor. This dish will pair perfectly with your favorite noodles, or rice or even garlic toast.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1. 1 lb green beans
2. 2 cups medium crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3. 1/2 cup pecans, dry roasted and coarsely chopped
4. 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
5. 1 medium shallot, finely minced
6. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
7. 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
8. Salt and pepper to taste
9. 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. In a medium pot, bring to boil 2 to 3 cups of water depending on the amount of green beans you are using. Add green beans and cook for about 5 minutes.
2. In the meantime, in a separate bowl, prepare an ice bath (i.e., add ice cubes and water into a bowl).
3. In a saucepan, sauté garlic and shallots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. The green beans should be done by now. If so, dish out and place into ice bath.
5. Add mushrooms and chili flakes to sauté pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook covered for about 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Drain ice bath and add the green beans back into the saucepan. Season with onion powder. Stir-fry well to combine flavors. Cook covered for another 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Dish onto serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, and top with toasted pecans.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sundried Tomato and Leek Gremolata with Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms

These brings me back to Italy for sure. The intense flavor of the sundried tomatoes is a perfect partner to the mild oniony flavor of the leeks in this creative take on the traditional Italian gremolata. Traditional gremolata is a simple yet delicious combination of parsley, lemon zest and garlic. So instead of lemon zest, I am using sundried tomatoes. And I added leeks for an extra punch in flavor and aromatics.

And like I always like to do....to keep things light and healthy, these stuffed mushrooms are steamed. Steaming preserves a lot more of the nutrients as well as the intense flavors of the ingredients. Steaming also keeps the mushrooms juicy for a wonderful bite.

These steamed stuffed mushrooms look elegant enough to serve at restaurants but they are so easy to make that they are also perfect snacks for weeknights. Make them today for your next party and be receive all the wows from your guests!

Ingredients (makes about 32 pieces, serves 8): 
1.       4 cloves garlic
2.       2 cups flat leaf parsley
3.       2 cups leek, washed and drained
4.       1 cup Bella Sun Luci sundried tomatoes marinated in olive oil
5.       2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6.       ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
7.       1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
8.       2 lbs Crimini mushrooms, stems removed
9.       Extra virgin olive oil, drizzle


1.     Blend ingredients 1 to 7 in a food processor until it becomes quite a fine mash. Remove mixture from food processor into a mixing bowl.
2.     Place shrimp in food processor and pulse about 4 or 5 times until shrimp is fine diced but not mushy. Remove shrimp into mixing bowl and mix well with the rest of the ingredients.
3.     Stuff each mushroom generously with the sundried tomato and shrimp filling and place onto a plate or bamboo steamer.
4.     Prepare a steamer and steam stuffed mushrooms for about 20 minutes. Garnish with some extra virgin olive oil and chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Warm Melon and Daikon Salad with Spicy Honey Mustard Dressing

Melons are in season and I have been thinking hard about making something delicious with them. Melons are the sweetest when they are in season...and so I thought why not highlight that sweetness with some roasted daikon radish and contrast it with a spicy honey mustard dressing. The slight crunch from the roasted daikon also adds interesting texture to the overall dish.

This warm salad is amazing and can be served cold too. Every bite is delightful and definitely screams summer!

Ingredients (for salad)(serves about 4):
1. 3 cups daikon, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
2. 2 cups honeydew melon, shaped into balls using a melon baller
3. 2 cups cantaloupe melon, shaped into balls using a melon baller
4. 2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
5. Drizzle of grapeseed oil

Ingredients (for dressing)(serves about 4):
1. 1 tablespoon whole grain or dijon mustard
2. 1 tablespoon honey
3. 2 tablespoons lemon
4. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5. 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
6. Salt and pepper to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Peel and chop daikon. Drizzle with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and roast in oven on a sheet pan for 30 minutes.
3. While daikon is roasting, use a melon baller to make balls of honeydew melon and cantaloupe melon into a large mixing bowl.
4. Make dressing by mixing all the ingredients for dressing in another mixing bowl and set aside.
5. Chop and add chives to melon balls.
6. When daikon is ready, remove from oven and add to melon balls. Then dress with dressing right away and toss well to coat.
7. Serve warm. May be serve cold too but I prefer it warm.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Flower Blooms with Sweet Vidalia Onions and Savory Mushrooms

Please cast your vote for my recipe to make it the winner of the Vidalia Onion Committee V Culinary Challenge Facebook page. Select "Vote Now" and look for the Summer Flower Blooms with Sweet Vidalia Onions and Savory Mushrooms recipe.


These are like blooms of summer flowers. The sweetness from the carefully caramelized vidalia onions pairs perfectly with the savory umami flavor of the saute crimini mushrooms. I prefer to use vidalia onions in this case because of the natural sweetness of the vidalia onions. They caramelized so perfectly and the natural sweetness is intense yet mellow...simply wonderful. There's no need for added sugar at all! Paired with a savory mushroom saute with parsley and hint of chilli flakes, its a mouthful of perfect sweet and savory goodness. 

For the flower cups, I prefer to use phyllo pastry in the case rather than the thicker egg wonton wrappers because I didn't want the cups to outshine the filling. The thinness of the phyllo pastry adds just enough crunch to complement each bite but does not overwhelm each bite with too much dough and too little filling.

Make them bigger for a main dish or make them smaller as a perfect party finger food that is sure to impress. You can even make the filling ahead, say the day before your party. Then bake the cups the morning of. When it's time for the party, fill the cups and warm them up in the oven for about 5 minutes and you are all good to go. 

Ingredients (makes about 18 bigger entree size cups to 26 smaller finger-food size cups):
1. 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2. 2 medium to large onions, thinly sliced
3. 1 lb crimini mushrooms, diced
4. 1/3 cup curly parsley, chopped
5. 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
6. Salt and pepper to taste
7. Phyllo pastry sheets, stacked together in 4 layers and cut into squares of 3X3 inches
8. Truffle oil (optional for drizzle)

1. In a shallow saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil over medium/high heat. Sweat/Saute onions until they get translucent (edges of some pieces might brown a little and that's ok. In fact, that's what you want!). Then turn the heat to medium/low and slowly caramelize until onions are soft and has a light brown color and taste absolutely delicious. Season with salt as you go along as necessary and add water to the pan as necessary to prevent onions from drying out.

2. Remove the onions and set aside. In the same pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil on high heat and saute mushrooms until tender and brown for about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and chili flakes. Then add parsley at the end to lightly wilt. Leave mushrooms in pan and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Each flower cup consist of 4 to 5 pieces of phyllo pastry squares that you have already cut out. This is how you assemble the phyllo sheets to create the flower cup. Lay one sheet of phyllo square on your work surface and brush lightly with some grapeseed oil. Then lay the next sheet on top at a slight angle from the sheet below. Repeat for the next 2 to 3 sheets.

5. Line the inside of a mini muffin tin with each stack of sheets to form a cup and bake blind at 375 degrees Fahreheit.

6. Remove the flower cups and fill them with a teaspoon of caramelized onions and saute mushrooms each. 

7. Drizzle with truffle oil if desired and serve warm. If not using truffle oil, you also have the option to serve these at room temperature.

Trust me....once you start munching on these darlings, you cannot stop. If you like this recipe, please cast your vote on the Vidalia Onion Committee V Culinary Challenge Facebook page. Select "Vote Now" and look for the Summer Flower Blooms with Sweet Vidalia Onions and Savory Mushrooms recipe.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sweet Potato Pots of Gold


I call them pretty little Pots of Gold because they are! Impress your guests at your next party with these delightful and delicious darlings or make them for a perfect appetizer or snack.

I created 2 different versions - the Sweet version and the Savory version, so that there's a golden pot out there for everyone. I love them both and got awesome reviews on both. Once you start popping them, you really can't stop. The Savory Pots are filled with yummy Louisiana sweet potatoes, fresh herbs, garlic and ginger. The Sweet Pots are filled with yummy Louisiana sweet potatoes, toasted pecan nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Try these for your next party....they are definitely dressed to impress!

Ingredients for Savory Pots (makes about 32 pieces):
1. 3/4 cup Louisiana sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
2. 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
3. 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
4. 1/4 cup fresh herbs (such as parsley, oregano, thyme and rosemary), finely chopped
5. 1 teaspoon onion powder
6. Salt and pepper to taste
7. 32 sheets of wonton wrapper
8. 32 pieces of fresh chives, cut to about 5-6 inches long 

Ingredients for Sweet Pots (makes about 32 pieces):
1. 3/4 cup Louisiana sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
2. 1/4 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted
3. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4. 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
5. 1/8 teaspoon salt
6. 32 sheets of wonton paper
7. 32 pieces of fresh chives, cut to about 5-6 inches long

Ingredients for Spicy Mayo dip (optional):
1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2. 1 tablespoon chili oil or fried chili paste
3. Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook and mash sweet potatoes and divide into 2 mixing bowls, 3/4 cup each.
2. If making Sweet Pots, in a saute pan, lightly toast pecan nuts until fragrant. Remove and set aside.
3. For Savory Pots, mix ingredients 1 to 6 under Savory Pots in a mixing bowl. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set mixture aside.

4. For Sweet Pots, mix ingredients 1 to 5 under Sweet Pots in a mixing bowl. Mix well and set mixture aside.

5. To wrap, place a piece of wonton wrapper in one palm, using a teaspoon, scoop about 3/4 teaspoon of either mixture onto the center of the wrapper.
6. Wrap by pulling up the sides of the wrapper to form the shape of a little pot of gold.
7. Close the top of the pot by tying with a piece of chive with 2 knots. Set aside on a tray (would be a good idea to separate the Sweet Pots from the Savory Pots as you continue to wrap.

8. In a wok or a shallow pan, heat up enough vegetable oil for a shallow fry.
9. Once the oil is hot enough, lightly fry these little darlings for about 2 to 3 minutes each until golden brown. Remove onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil before serving.
10. Serve warm with spicy mayo dip or your favorite dip!