Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Steelhead Trout. Duck Egg. Lentils. Beets

Hello, lovelies.  I have a pretty damn good recipe to share with you guys today.  It's one I made up last Friday night for 'date night dinner'.  My husband and I generally stay in and eat a nice dinner after the kids go down every Friday, and most of the time it's steak of some sort, but sometimes it's salmon, or something similar.  We're big salmon fans in our house.  But salmon is a bit overfished and if we can help it, we try to eat sustainable seafood.  So while shopping at our local market last Friday I came across some gorgeous steelhead trout.  (If you aren't familiar, it looks pretty much exactly like salmon.)  And, in a hurry to get through the shopping trip before I had to get back on mom duty, I quickly grabbed a big bunch of beets and a carton of local duck eggs.  The rest of the meal, I figured, I would just sort out when it came time to cooking later.  And that night, after going through my fridge and pantry, this is the meal I came up with on the fly.  And...um...it was incredible.  I couldn't put my fork down.  And I think my husband licked his plate.  So...I thought I would be generous and share it with you guys.  (A giver, I am.)

I also feel like this is the perfect meal to cook that special someone for Valentines Day...it's elegant, it's just fancy enough but so easy to execute, it's incredible, and anytime a runny egg yolk is invited to the party, the party becomes instantly sexier so...I mean, what more could you ask for?

Just sayin'.

And here's how it all went down...

(serves 4, but can easily be scaled down by using less fish.  You'll see below that I cooked 3 portions of fish so I would have a lunch the next day but had plenty of lentils leftover.)

For the Beets...
(plan on 1 standard, medium-large beet per person.)

This is the first thing you want to do for this meal.  Start these earlier in the day, even the day before if you can, and store them in the fridge before the second roast.  The best way to cook beets is to dry roast them whole first, before you slice, saute or roast them.  It's so easy.  All you have to do is cut off the stems (keep the greens to saute for another meal-they're delicious!), cut off any long end pieces and wrap each one in several layers of heavy duty foil.  Place them on a roasting pan and cook at 350 for about 2 hours, or until they're fork tender.  Allow them to cool in the foil and once cooled, the peel just slides right off when rubbed with paper towel.  After the peels have been removed, slice them into wedges and place back in that same roasting pan with enough olive or canola oil to lightly coat, a good amount of kosher salt, a bit of sugar, and a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar to coat.  Roast at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until caramelized on the outside, while your lentils are simmering...

For the Lentils...
In a medium saucepan with a bit of olive or canola oil, sweat out the following...
-1 carrot, peeled and diced
-1 celery stalk, diced
-1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
Season with kosher salt
Cook til the onions and celery are transluscent

Add in...
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Stir until the garlic is fragrant.

Add in...
-1 cup french lentils*
Toss around with the vegetables and allow them to toast a bit.

Deglaze the pan with...
-a good splash of a dry, white wine such as a pinot grigio
Stir and scrape up any bits that were stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Allow the wine to bubble for about 30 seconds.

Add in...
-2 cups of broth/stock (I used chicken only because I had an open carton already, but vegetable would be perfectly fine.  As would water...you would just need too add more salt to taste.)
-a large handful of fresh sage leaves, wrapped in kitchen twine. (This is because you want the flavor of sage but not the pieces.)

Bring the liquid to a boil.  Stir well and cover.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, simmering and covered, for 20 minutes.  The lentils will still have a bite to them and that's what you want.

Remove sage bundle and adjust seasoning if necessary.

(*I prefer using french lentils instead of the larger green ones because they hold their shape better.  The traditional green ones break down too easily and become mushy.  But the french lentils, which are smaller and almost black in color, keep their integrity.  They're a bit more expensive and you know me and saving money, but I feel it's worth it.  If all you have are domestic green lentils and everything else to make this dish, please don't go out just for fancy lentils.  That's ridiculous.)

For the Trout...

Season your filets well, on the flesh side, with kosher salt, whole fennel and coriander seeds, finely ground (plan on roughly 1/2 tsp of each spice per fish portion), and lemon zest (2 fish portions take the zest of about 1/2 a lemon-reserve the lemon for later).  (If you have the time, season your fish at least an hour beforehand, if not earlier that day.)

Allow the fish to come up to room temperature while your beets and lentils are cooking, for about 10 minutes.

Preheat a large skillet on medium-high heat (I don't add oil to my pans when I'm cooking salmon or something similar.  There is already a lot of oil in the fish and it's unnecessary to add more.)  Once the skillet is hot, place the fish, seasoned flesh-side down into the pan.  Do not touch it.  Allow it to cook, unmoved for 4-5 minutes.  Most of the cooking is done on this first side and you want a good crust on it before you flip.  You also know it's ready to flip when it pulls away from the pan and doesn't stick.  Flip the fish over, skin-side down, and transfer to the oven where your beets are cooking.  They should only take about 6-8 minutes to finish cooking, depending on how thick your filets were.  They should be a little springy to the touch.

For the Duck Eggs...

(Yes, you can use chicken eggs.  Absolutely.  I was just feeling fancy.  Duck eggs have a much richer flavor, a higher nutritional count, and are super duper yummy.  But, then again, so are really good chicken eggs ;-)  And you're going to start cooking these once you've transferred your fish to the oven.)

Preheat a medium, nonstick skillet on medium-high heat.  Add some canola/olive oil to the pan once it's hot.  Crack each egg into the pan, season well with kosher salt...

...and cover the skillet with a lid, or a pan of equal size, or a piece of foil.  Just make sure it's completely covered.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, checking to make sure you don't overcook it.  You want a still-orange yolk and a firm, opaque white.  A little foggy film over the yolks is perfect for a really thick but still runny yolk.

How to plate...

First, take a handful of fresh arugula leaves and place in the center of each plate.

Then take a large mound of your lentils and place on top of the arugula bed.

Then take your fish (remove the skin if you need to, your choice) and place centered over the lentils.

Arrange some of your balsamic beets around the fish and over the lentils.

Top the fish with your cooked egg.

Add a bit of sea or kosher salt over everything, some cracked black pepper, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon (from the one you zested earlier.)

And enjoy.

Consider stopping halfway through...

But then, most likely reconsider.

Continue enjoyment.

Love and cheers to you all!!!




Still hungry for more?  Of course you are, darling.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies

I know.  I had you at dark chocolate.  Then at peanut butter.   Then at shortbread.  And then you were mine at cookies.  These things may be incredible.  They may be perfect.  I'm just sayin'.  (And so is everyone else who tried them... As a matter of fact, when I went to pick up the container from my trusty taste tester spot today, they were all gone!  I'll take that as a good sign.)  They're just sweet enough, they're the perfect amount of salty and the dark chocolate jewels mixed with the subtle flavor of peanut butter?  Holy goodness.  They melt in your mouth.  Literally, once they touch the back of your tongue, they just give in and melt all the way down your throat.  They're heavenly.  I just can't say enough about them.  So I'll stop talking.  And I'll just share the recipe.

Oh.  One more thing.  Because there are no eggs in the recipe, you can feel a little bit better about eating the dough.

I know I did.

*Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies
(Makes about 40 cookies)

In the bowl of your standing mixer combine the following...
-2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, ROOM TEMPERATURE and FULLY SOFTENED.
-2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (I used natural, cane sugar sweetened)

Beat until smooth and creamy and fluffy.  You want no lumps.

Add in...
-about 1 tsp vanilla extract or one good splash

In a separate bowl combine your dry ingredients well, then slowly add them to the bowl while it's mixing on low...
-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or I like to use whole wheat pastry flour for more fiber)
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-2 tsp kosher salt

Mix until the dough isn't crumbly anymore, and it's smooth...just like cookie dough.

Add in, by hand (er, spatula)...
-1 1/2 cups semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

Lay out two sheets of wax paper and place half the dough onto each.  Shape into a log (think the width of one of those cookie dough rolls you find in the grocery store).

Roll it up in the wax paper.  Twist at each end.

Refrigerate for a couple hours, until firm.

When you're ready to bake, unroll the dough, and slice into about 1/2 inch slices with a super sharp knife and place on ungreased cookie sheets.  

They may crumble, but that's fine...just smush them back together.  And these don't have to be spaced apart because they don't rise or spread.

Place one sheet on each rack in a preheated 350 oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Switch and rotate the cookie sheets and bake for another 10 minutes.  They will still look raw, and be soft to the touch, but when they cool they will firm up.  Don't overbake them!  There should be the slightest hint of golden brown at the edges and bottoms of the cookies.

Allow them to set on the sheets and then once they're firmed up, you can finish cooling them on racks.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple days, or in the fridge for about a week, or tightly sealed in freezer bags up to 3 months in the freezer.

(*You can also freeze the raw dough as well!!  Just place the wrapped rolls in a freezer zip bag or wrap again in foil and freeze for up to 3 months!!  Just slice frozen and bake as directed.)

(you're welcome.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Minute Arms. A Video

Yo, babes.  What's up?  How've you been?  Happy (workout) Wednesday!  It's hump day, y'all!  You've made it half way!

OK.  I'm not gonna talk a lot because you have some watching and doing to do today, loves.
So I'll be brief.  Sort of.

Well, I'll be Abbey Brief.

I'm starting this whole thing you're about to see based on viewer request.  I field a lot of questions about my own fitness routine and had some recent requests for quick and easy workouts.  Which brings us to where we are today.  The one thing I will get into real quickish is that exercise doesn't have to be complicated.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  There are always new workouts coming out by the minute, making you mountains of promises while stealing your money.  But sometimes the simplest things can deliver.  The classics... That's why they're a classic, yes?   Because they work.  I want you all to believe you can achieve your goals even if you think you don't have the time to do so.

And I seriously want you guys to do this with me.  It'll only take 5 minutes!!  FIVE. DAMN. MINUTES.  That's nuthin people.  No equipment necessary.  Just you and that purty bod.  (You just have to be OK watching me move and listening to me talk for that long.)

Oh, you're at work?  No problem.  I got you.

Oh, you're not alone?  I don't care.  Grab some friends and make it a group thing.

You're reading this anyway, you're about to watch me do it anyway, so come on!! 

I promise you'll want to do it again.  It's too simple not to do.  You just have to promise me you'll do it.  And share with me that you did!!  So after you're done, follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook
(Bonus points for Instagram ;-). 

Oh, and there's more 5 minutes in heaven to come. This here is just step 1.

Now, get up off of that thing and move with me, baby. 

Yes you can.

(if you can't view the above embedded video, have no fear- click here...)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

East meets South

This recipe comes together in about 10 minutes...if you don't count prep time.  Which I totally do therefore I just lied to you.  Ugh.  Don't you hate the recipes that claim they're '10 minute dinners!'  No, they're not.  They never factor in prep time...which is absolutely part of the recipe.  So...this meal cooks in about 10 minutes.  How's that?

This is my Thai take on the lowcountry/southern classic, Shrimp and Grits.  The idea just came to me awhile ago, out of nowhere, so I typed it into my phone...then forgot about it.  Then found it last week.  That's when I'm super thankful to have a crazy brain like mine, the kind that writes and types things down constantly.  I get made fun of by my family and friends a lot for being so immediate and vocal with all my thoughts, but if I don't speak or document them instantly, I will forget them.  Simple as that.  And thank goodness I typed this one because this right here is GOOD.

It's stir-fried shrimp and veggies tossed in a thick and creamy peanut sauce served over even creamier coconut grits topped with a mango-avocado relish.

I mean...

(I know.)

(and you're welcome)

Thai Shrimp 'n Grits

-2 bell peppers (I went with red), sliced
-1 medium onion, sliced
-4 large carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
-(10 oz bag frozen, thawed) sugar snap peas OR a little over 1/2 lb. fresh, trimmed and kept whole
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced (I use my microplane to 'mince' both the garlic and ginger)
-1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I prefer the 21/30 count)

In a large skillet on med-high heat, add some canola oil.  Once the oil starts to smoke, throw in all your veggies except the garlic and ginger (and sugar snap peas if they're frozen.)

Season with some kosher salt and allow to brown before tossing.  Once the veggies are tender and browned, add in your garlic and ginger (and sugar snaps if you used frozen).

Once that becomes fragrant, push your veggies to the edge of the skillet and add your shrimp to the open space.

Season with more kosher salt.  Cook til golden brown on all sides, but not completely opaque yet (it's so easy to overcook shrimp!) and then toss them with the veggies.

Pour in your Peanut Sauce (recipe below).  

Toss to combine.  

Serve over Coconut Grits (recipe below).  Garnish with Mango-Avocado relish (recipe below).

*My Thai Peanut Sauce

In a blender, combine the following...
-1/4 cup peanut butter (I prefer the natural kind, but what I used for this was still cane sugar sweetened)
-1 heaping TB orange marmalade
-3 TB soy sauce (I prefer low sodium)
-1 TB sesame oil
-1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled
-2 TB white wine vinegar (normally I would use seasoned rice vinegar but I was out...seasoned rice vinegar contains sugar so keep that in mind if you decide to use it.)

Blend til smooth.

*Coconut Grits

In a medium saucepan combine the following...
-1 cup quick grits
-1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk (this is roughly 2 cups...full fat please and not the refrigerated diluted/sweetened kind)
-1 (13.5 oz) can chicken stock (or 2 cups)
-pinches of kosher salt

Bring it to a simmer, whisk to avoid lumps.  Keep whisking as it comes up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover.  Cook for about 10 minutes covered, or until smooth and soft and creamy, which is the time it takes you to make your stir-fry!

*Mango-Avocado Relish

In a small bowl combine the following...
-1 mango, diced
-1 avocado, diced
-1 green onion, minced
-1 lime, zested and juiced
-1 handful of fresh cilantro, minced
-kosher salt to taste

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

in the dark.

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of confidence lately.  And the other day, I posted this on Instagram

"Confidence is a tricky thing. We all strive to achieve it, yet once we have it, feel pressure to apologize for it. Confidence is beautiful. But confidence is scary to those who lack it. And, sadly, judgement is easier than acceptance. So we hide our confidence so as to not offend those who are afraid. And to avoid being judged. We hide our beauty. DO NOT be afraid. Don't hide. Don't judge. Be beautiful. Be confident. BE you."

Then I asked everyone to tag the most confident person they know.  And many, many people did.  I started this beautiful love train that made me so happy to sit back and marvel at. 

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we simultaneously become ashamed when we feel our most confident?


We're afraid of what others will think of us.  So we dim our light to not outshine the crowd.  And it somehow feels safer in the dark, doesn't it?  The crowd can't see us to judge us if we're hiding in the dark.  But if that's what the crowd wants from us, then we're with the wrong crowd.  And if we're hiding, we're not doing or creating or BEing.

There's an amazing Aristotle quote that says,

'To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.' 

I repeat those words in my head whenever I let the fear creep in.  Whenever I let that fear of what others may think of me and my confidence overshadow the confidence itself.

And then there's this quote,

'You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who hates peaches.'

I am so in love with that one.  You can't please everybody, (and trust me, I'm the poster child for that statement), so why try?  Do what pleases you.  Make yourself the best YOU and then everything else will fall into place.  Blur the negative, muffle it, don't let those voices be what define you.  Those voices may be louder, they may be screaming at you from all angles, but you just focus on the positive, the sometimes soft and tiny voices telling you you're beautiful and worthy, and you won't get stuck alone in the dark.

* * *

I, myself, have never had a problem with confidence.  I've always known the things I was good at, my strengths (and weaknesses).  But I have always, always struggled with being open about it...being confident about confidence, if you will.  I have always apologized for it, or simply not shared it at all.  Out of fear.  I'm working on it.  And hopefully (unapologetically) putting this post out there will help that.  

One of the things I'm working on being OK with sharing is my writing.  Stories, poems, songs... That's why I changed the format of this blog last year.  Instead of only sharing recipes (just one part of what makes me me), I decided to share all that makes me me.  It was scary at first.  I knew I would be judged.  And I have been.  But, at the end of the day, I'm doing something that I was once scared of and because of that, I am stronger.  And more confident.  

A game I like to play with myself is this- whenever I feel frightened of taking a confident leap, I pretend someone has dared me to do it. And I, my friends, NEVER shy away from a dare.  So I do it, I share that thing, whatever it was that I was fearful of being judged on. And I come out stronger because of it. My writing is very personal, especially what I'm about to share with you here, but I've learned recently that sharing something personal can be incredibly freeing. 

So.  Let freedom ring...

One of my favorite songs on the planet is by City and Colour.  It's called 'We Found Each Other In The Dark'.  It's a song I discovered just last year but I immediately fell in deep, hard and fast love with it.  It's a song about love.  About heartache.  About holding on tightly to someone, even when all the elements are tugging at your grasp.

The other day I started thinking about that song, the lyrics I know by heart and soul, and decided I would rework it into a poem.  (If you don't know the song, I urge you to listen to it, or at the very least read the lyrics.  I'll wait. )


The poem is mine but the idea behind it is pure Dallas Green.  What a beautiful, beautiful mind.  

So even though the light is where we find most of the things we have been searching for-

...sometimes what you didn't know you wanted has been hiding all along in the dark. 

in the dark.

in the dark i found a face
i followed the sound of bells
and now we sit in empty space
our vessel restless in the swells

a heart of flames to light the path
like beasts we found our way
through the smoke and all the ash
we strive to find the day

in the dark i heard a voice
it says we’re gonna live 
to live like them oh rejoice!
too many things we’d give

we rock along through starless seas
the lonesome air so stark
and here we are it seems that we
have found each other in the dark


Go out and BE today, babes. 

I dare ya. 

Hungry? One year ago I posted this recipe for (Avocado) Chocolate Pudding...check it out!  (kid approved!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stop. Dinnertime.

No time for chit chat.  It's recipe time.  And today's recipe is what my family ate for dinner last night- Miso Glazed Cod with Crispy Brussels and Orange-Ginger Carrot 'Noodles'.  And yes. My whole family ate it.  Yes. Kids too.  My son's favorite part was the cod, my daughter's was a tie between the sprouts and the carrot noodles.  Both cleaned their plate.

Oh right, right. No chit chat. 

OK but if I were to chit chat, I would probably elaborate more on these buzz words I'm about to throw at you hard and fast:

awesome.  killer.  yummy.  healthy.  delicious.  crispy.  crunchy.  satisfying.  comforting.  badass.  sexy.  

I will say this though- if you aren't a cod person, use salmon.  That's amazing.  Tuna, even would work.  And if you aren't a fish person, use chicken or pork and adjust the cooking time.

Oh, and one more thing- if you aren't familiar with miso paste, or haven't bought it before, below is the product I recommend, along with the rice vinegar I buy- just to give you a visual. I bought the miso at Whole Foods and it's absolutely delicious.  (If I didn't think you would consider me strange I would tell you I had to stop myself from eating it straight outta the tub.  (too late?  damn you, chit chat!))  This specific kind is called 'Mellow White Miso'.  The rice vinegar is available at any grocery store in the international aisle and the vinegar aisle.

Now onto the goods. 

*Miso-Glazed Cod
(serves 4 hungry adults)

In a large food storage zip bag, combine the following marinade ingredients...

-1/2 cup white miso paste
-1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
-1/2 cup light brown sugar (loosely packed, or else it's too sweet)

Smush it up in the bag to combine everything.

Place 2 1/2 - 3 lbs of Alaskan cod, cut into desired serving sizes, into the bag and cover each piece in the marinade.  Seal bag.

Place in the fridge (inside a bowl to be safe) and allow to marinate for 5-6 hours.

Remove the bag from the fridge and allow the fish to come up to room temperature for about 15 minutes before cooking.

Turn your broiler on high and cover a baking sheet in foil (for easy clean-up).  Blot each piece of fish of any excess marinade (or it will be too sweet/strong!) and place them on the foil-lined sheet and put under the broiler.  Broil for 5-6 minutes, making sure you get a good golden, caramelized top.  The fish is done when it's opaque and firm at the edges.

Serve hot and now with these babies...

*Roasted Brussels Sprouts
There really is no need for a recipe for this. But, if you haven't jumped on the roasted veg train yet, hop on my friend, it's a fun and easy ride. (Interchange any other veg for the brussels):

-Chop the root end off of your sprouts and half the small ones, quarter the larger ones (plan on about 1/4 lb brussels sprouts per person).  Place on a cookie sheet already drizzled with canola oil.  (Add some sliced onion for optimum flavor.)  Drizzle with more oil to lightly coat, season liberally with kosher salt and a few good sprinkles of sugar.  Shake the pan to make sure there's just one even layer of veg.

Place in a preheated 350 oven and roast for 35-45 minutes.  They're done when they're browned and crispy on the outside.

*Orange-Ginger Carrot 'Noodles'

Wash and peel 5-6 large carrots (to feed about 4 people) and using either the vegetable peeler, a mandolin or one of those fancy spirally gadgets, turn your carrots into noodles.  (I used my mandolin on the thinnest setting.)

Place in a bowl and cover with the following dressing:

-1/3 cup orange juice
-1/2 tsp grated ginger (I use my microplane)
-1 TB agave nectar
-1 1/2 TB soy sauce
-(optional) crushed red pepper flakes

Stir and coat all the carrots in the dressing.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Serve room temperature.  Garnish with finely chopped green onions and/or cilantro if desired.  Chopped peanuts/cashews are also a nice garnish.


I'll be back to chit chat-talkin' real soon, no worries.  'Til then, have an awesome day!!!

Follow @everydaychampagne on Instagram for some visual fun, @EvryDayChampgne on twitter for the occasional clever piece of nonsense and Everyday Champagne on Facebook, just because.