Behind Again

Well, I’m back with some more posts. I have some major catching up to do. So for those of you who don’t know I teach karate as well. I’ve really just started my dojo and I have been really focusing on my students as well as my training. So I have blown the food posts off lately. I apologize and I am really going to try to stay on task. So without further ado, here is what I have been cookin’ n’ bakin’ lately…….

Black Bean Cups

Fresh, light and super easy to whip up. From bottom to top: rice, black beans, roasted red peppers, avocado, cilantro and squeeze of lime plus a lime wedge to boost. I honestly can’t recall where I found this delish recipe but an actual recipe isn’t need. Just layer your favorites and eat! (find this on recipegirl.com)

Black Bean Burrito Bowl3

Zucchini Crust Pizza

So I know a lot of people have tried cauliflower crust but have you tried zucchini? I found this once again on recipegirl.com and at first I wasn’t buying it. But I decided to give it whirl and honestly I find it much better than cauliflower. It has not strange after taste and holds really well.

Zucchini really doesn’t have a flavor so you can add your favorite seasonings to really make a flavorful crust that compliments your toppings. Get creative and feel free to spice it up a bit.

zucchini crust pizza

Catching UP

So I already fell behind in my goal to post a new Fresh n’New dish every week. Please forgive, I’ve been busy, sick, and really busy. Anyhow in a nutshell here’s what I have been cooking:

Summer Gratin: Surprisingly light with a tomato based sauce. All your fave veggies in a neat square. The wonderful recipe can be found on recipegirl.com

summer gratin2

Next up: Salted Caramel Chocolate Baked Doughnuts & Old School Vday Cookies. I added a good dash of Butterscotch liqueur to the caramel sauce and honestly that really made those doughnuts happy! The Vday cookies are just decorated with royal icing. Nothing fancy but always pretty to look at.

Moving onto Coconut Sauce Salmon with gingered jasmine Rice. The dish isn’t glamorous to look at but it is really tasty. I love a good piece of salmon and the I love coconut so the both together made for a decadent and savory dish. I highly recommended this one.

Salmon with creamy coconut -ginger sauce4

Zucchini Pizza Crust: Yup another veggie turned into a crust. I’ve done the cauliflower one so I thought why not try zucchini. I like the zucchini version better. To me it was easier to make and I don’t enjoy the smell of cooked cauliflower so this was a bonus as well. Plus the green color is awesome!

zucchini crust pizza2

Up next and only a few more to go: Black Bean Bowls and Tomato Florentine Soup. Paired together these two simple dishes make a complete meal. Both are so pretty to look at. The layered bean dish in a clear cup looks elegant and the red florentine soup just completes the whole southwest theme. Super tasty, super easy!

White Chocolate Truffles: What to do with leftover ganache and white dipping chocolate? Make truffles. Very easy and super easy to eat too many in one sitting. I am not a white chocolate lover but these were still pretty good. My husband had to torture his taste buds by eating most of them, ha, ha.

white chocolate truffles

Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos: I love, love, love seafood tacos. I’ve made numerous types of fish tacos and several shrimp tacos. Once again, another winner and just like all the others, they are not hard to make. Find it on recipegirl.com

Tequilla Lime Grilled Tacos2

And now for my last entry and I will be up to date! Hip Hip Hooray! So last week or so I made a Greek Dip. A lighter dip than most, the main dipping component is hummus and it is generously topped with kalamatas, cucumber, and tomatoes. Use your favorite chips or pita chips to dip and dip and dip, and, dip. Ok you get the point. Today I made Green Waffles. Recipegirl had a post for a green smoothie waffle and I was going to pick up some spinach and make a smoothie waffle version of my own but I got too lazy so I just added a healthy dump of Matcha into my favorite Belgian Waffle recipe and voila, lovely green waffles. In advance…Happy St. Patricks Day!

Fresh n’ Yummy

So if I eat a really green power salad, do I get to eat extra doughnuts? I’ve heard, maybe read that for every green veggie salad you eat, you can indulge in extra helpings of sweets. Whether or not there is any truth to that….I did it. I am not a doughnut, cookie, or cake lover but I will be honest, these Brioche Doughnuts were really good. Lightly crisped on the outside, tender with a bit of chew on the inside with the added bonus of jelly or vanilla custard.  So good, so yummy when they are still warm. After the first bite, I went back for another and realized I had eaten the whole doughnut! So I had to even it out and try another…well at least I figured I had to. There were at least 15 so I was sure there would be plenty to share, uh, well there should’ve been enough share. Ok, so I didn’t eat all of them but I’m sure I had at least two, maybe three

Onto the Green Machine Power Salad. This is a very fresh salad. Use any greens and veggies you prefer. I found this on the country living website and they had very precise amounts and specific veggies. I did follow the recipe and honestly I think it was really good without alterations. My husband on the other hand was less than thrilled. He just kept commenting on how green it was:)

 

                                                       Brioche Doughnuts

Brioche Dougnuts5

 

green machine power salad
Green Machine Power Salad

 

 

 

Grilled Lamb Chops with Chimchurri Sauce

So, as many of you know, I am not a meat eater but I really want to be able to cook it and cook it well. Fortunately, I have a couple brave souls who are willing to sacrifice their taste buds.  I received an A+ for this round. Lamb may scare a lot of people off but it really isn’t that difficult. Yes, it is rather delicate and easy to overcook but if you follow the directions you will have no problems.

This is a simple recipe; basically a rack of lamb, cut into 10 – 12 chops, topped with a chimchurri sauce of arugula, parsley, garlic, oil, red wine vinegar, and cumin. The recipe is adapted from Country Living and the dish really makes an impressive meal but only takes 30 minutes or less to prepare. I highly recommend this dish for that special night or just a chill evening with a nice glass of wine.

grilled lamb chops with chimchurri sauce1

Fresh & New

So I have become very bored with my cooking and baking lately and I began thinking about what I could do to become more excited about cooking. I want my clients who come to class to be excited as well. Amazingly I googled “I am bored with my cooking.”  and I found a lot of new to me recipes that were simple and most were light and fresh as well.

Below is the first in my series of “Fresh & New”: Grilled Sea Bass with Salsa Verde.

First off if you can’t find Sea Bass just use your favorite firm white fish. Remember to heat your pan before placing your fish skin down into the pan. This will give that skin a nice crispy texture and a beautifully brown color. It can take practice so don’t get discouraged if the first couple times your skin isn’t as crispy as you like.

The recipe only uses a handful of common ingredients, another plus in all the recipes I found, and literally takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I can’t get green tomatoes in my area so I used a small can of salsa verde and pureed in the cilantro. The fish is garnished with tomato and red onion.

Simple, fresh, and tasty!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

2016

No resolutions here! Just food and other food associated tips. I realized I have been bored with my cooking and baking lately and I want to create and add new things to my weekly menus.

I was told that the average person eats/prepares the same 15 – 20 meals on a regular basis. Think about what you’ve eaten/ cooked over the past few months. What about what you ate at restaurants? Gotcha! We all do it and we are all creatures of habit. There is nothing wrong with that. I’ve just become very bored and frustrated with the same dishes.

I will be throwing in new recipes every so often. Recipes will easy to make with no obscure ingredients. Simple, clean, and fresh.

So join me on my adventure and feel free to let me know what you are up to as well.

Welcome to 2016!

Finally back and with a food!

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I got so caught up with thousands of other tasks I neglected this little blog of mine. In a nutshell I made a Quinoa Burger seasoned with chipotle powder and garlic. Topped with avocado, tomato, spinach and your choice of condiments then voila feasting time. Oh, don’t forget the side of beni imo chips…..
Stick with me and there will be more to come. Find me on facebook/simplesweetscookingschool

 

 

Luscious and healthy!
Luscious and healthy!

Loving and Loathing my Kitchen

So it has been awhile since I’ve posted. Like everyone else daily life has been hectic and I kept telling myself to post something relevant. Well, for the past several months I have been between loving and loathing my kitchen. If you’ve ever been to my home, I’m sure some of you wonder how I could love my kitchen. Yes, it is small and there is no cupboard space and I don’t have a real oven but that’s what I love about it. All those quirky things make me realize that I don’t need a rockstar kitchen to be a top notch cook or baker. But then there are times when I open my cupboards and want to scream because I can’t get to that skillet unless I remove half the dishes that are blocking it. Sounds frustrating right? Well, yes and no. Sometimes I just have to laugh and yes other times I am royally frustrated and want to sink every dime into remodeling the kitchen.
So you may wonder why haven’t we remodeled? Well, for one I don’t know what I want and two we live in Japan. It is super expensive here to remodel or change anything. So I really want to wait to make sure I know what we want. Plus there are other things more important than a fancy oven. As long as my kitchen is clean and functional, I will deal with loving and loathing!
Recently I cleaned out and organized my cupboards. It may not look like a huge difference but I don’t have things dumping on my head anymore.
Let me know about your kitchen and the cool quirky or irritating things you have to deal with. Sometimes sharing makes those difficult times easier.

Just the basics
Just the basics

This is actually is better than before
This actually is better than before

Where have I been and what have I been doing?

Wow, can’t believe I haven’t written since January and honestly I could have sworn I did something in February. Anyhow, my Mom asked me if I posted anything to that neat little page I had and it made me wonder that the heck have I been doing this whole time and where have I been. Well, looking back to mid January I taught a lot of classes and did a lot of karate and then February came and I taught even more classes and did even more karate.
My goal this year was to find balance and honestly although it may not seem like it, I feel balanced and am very happy with where I am? I really love karate and am deeply involved. I am looking to start teaching soon and look forward to MORE KARATE!
Anyhow on to what have I cooked. Most recently I made Tofu French Toast. See below, very yummy and very simple. I am not a bread lover so this was just the ticket. Tofu slices dipped in egg seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla. Give it a try it really tastes like Traditional French Toast

Just like the real thing!
Just like the real thing!

As requested by my son for his 17th birthday I made his favorite cake: Chocolate Truffle with strawberries. I even had a slice. It is so rich so only he was able to eat several slices.

Very rich, only for true chocolate lovers.
Very rich, only for true chocolate lovers.

One of my newest adventures was Zenzai with mochi. Now this isn’t really that difficult but it is a sweet dish very common in Okinawa and Japan and everyone has strong opinions over it. It can’t be too sweet, the beans have to be cooked but not mushy and the most important part of the dish are the mochi balls. They have to be tender but not overly chewy. I think I really nailed it. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and if nothing else, it looked fantastic. My son and several other boys actually asked for seconds and they are all experienced Zenzai eaters.

Perfect for a cold day.
Perfect for a cold day.

Well for now that sort of catches me up. I really need to stay on it. I have a couple more classes this month and so far April is wide open. I should be able to focus on some new dishes and new adventures. Until then keep cooking and stay balanced!

Soup to Curry with just a few Spices

So I had two packs of frozen spinach just staring at me in my freezer. Generally I use fresh spinach but I keep a few packs of frozen for certain dishes that I cook. I felt like I should use these two in something new and a bit different. I came across a recipe for spinach soup. I figured it was another one of those fat laden creamed soups but I was pleasantly surprised to find no heavy cream, no milk, actually no dairy but instead just a handful ingredients. Best of all, I went from enjoying a spinach soup and then by just adding a few curry spices I turned it into the best spinach curry I’ve ever had.
I know the color is odd but really it’s good and it cooks up in a flash. I’ve included the base recipe. To make it into a curry add your favorite curry spices and let it simmer a few minutes longer.

From Soup to curry with just a few spices
From Soup to Curry with just a few spices

Spinach Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 dried red chili
salt/pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed or 2 1/2 lb fresh

Heat the oil in large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic begins to color. Add the onion and red chili. Saute until the onion is golden brown; about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to high and add the wine. Cook until reduced by half. Then add the vegetable stock and turn the heat to medium. Add in the spinach and continue to cook until the frozen spinach is heated thoroughly or the fresh is wilted.

Remove from heat and chill by placing the pot into a bowl of ice. Once room temperature, using an immersion blender or upright blender, puree the soup until smooth.

Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.

*if you like really thick soup, add a diced potato to the soup along with the onion. This adds texture without the fat.
**For a curry, add your favorite curry spices such as curry powder, cumin, garam masala, etc