Thursday, April 21, 2016

Glazed Asian Chicken Meatballs with Tuxedo Sesame Seeds

I prep my meals like clock work every Sunday.  I usually write everything in my phone Saturday that I need to buy in the grocery store Sunday.  I'll look at different websites or cook books in my house then kind of get creative with my own ideas.  In my living room the far side is lined with shelves which are part of the house,  so my mom gave me about 100 old cook books to line the shelves.  It's really cool to look at some 80's cook books to get ideas.  I really like doing that.    I work late on Saturday nights so I usually sleep in a little bit Sunday,  then have my coffee, and head right to the gym or grocery store.   

After that I prep all my meals for at least four days.  It helps me spend less money and stay on track.  With that being said, I sometimes struggle to eat all of the meals I prep because I get tired of it.  One thing I've found I never get tired of,  anything Asian inspired.  This recipe is the so good,  and so fast.  It's perfect for prepping with white or brown rice,  and some sort of roasted veggie.  Quick and easy give you the ability to do a little more Sunday Funday with this nice NJ Weather we've been having lately..... don't judge me,  I'm an out door day drinker kind of girl.

Asian Chicken Meatballs with Tuxedo Sesame Seeds
Prep: 12 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 5 services of 3-4 meatballs, depending on the size you make.

1lb ground chicken
2 large chunks of ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 medium size shallot
2 tbsp milk
1 egg
1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large bunch of green onions, bottoms and tops removed
Tuxedo Sesame Seeds for sprinkling

For the glaze:
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
Grated ginger

Another large bunch of green onions for serving

1.  Prepare all the fresh ingredients: remove tops and bottoms of the green onions and chop. Set half aside.  Dice the garlic and shallot veryyyy tiny.
2. In a large bowl add: ground chicken, garlic, shallot, milk, egg, sesame oil,  a pinch of salt and pepper,  red pepper flakes, half the green onions (mix of bottoms and tops), and Panko bread crumbs.
3. Use a grater and grate ginger over top mixture into the bowl.
4. Mix well with hands but do not over mix--just until well incorporated.
5. Place in fridge for 10 minutes to let set.
6. About 8 minutes after placing meatball mixture in fridge heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat. When just about smoking, begin rolling mini palm size meatballs and dropping them in the hot pan.
7. Cook in two batches so you do not over crowd the pan.  Cook meatballs for about 4-5 minutes per side until crispy brown--a little less if you like them less well done.
8. When the first batch is almost done combine all of the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Whisk well throughout  so it does not stick or burn. Cook for 5 minutes or so or until thickened.
9.   When the first batch is done remove from cooking pan and drop directly into the glaze. Roll around covering each meatball and then place on a plate with a cover to keep warm.
10. Repeat with second batch until all meatballs are done.

Serve over rice, with scallions and a pinch of sesame seeds for presentation!  Also,  serve with additional glaze for those who like their food with more dressing---I do not.  I like dry and plain-- hence why I use hardly any condiments.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Best Food Ever: Sushi Pizza, Sakana Oriental, Woodbury Heights

The Best Food Ever: Sushi Pizza 

I love pizza.   I love sushi. So  this is basically like heaven for me.  I know you think I'm nuts right now.   Your likely thinking of traditional pizza with cheese and sauce.  It's absolutely not that.  It's a pizza made of  fresh raw fish,  creamy avocado, and spicy mayo.  It's amazing.

First let's start off with the place,  Sakana Oriental in Woodbury Heights, NJ. It's conveniently located right on Route 45,  across from the Hollywood Diner.  From the outside, it looks like an old diner.   On the outside it looks industrial like cold metal.  Inside it is extremely welcoming, however.

When I was a kid it was a Chinese Buffet.  It's changed hands and names a couple times but has always relatively stayed with Asian cuisine.  It's not fancy,  that's why I love it.  I also love it because it's BYOB.  When you walk in your greeted by fish,  and I'd have to assume those pretty fish are not on the menu.    You are also greeted by whom I assume is the manager or owner because he is always there.  Sometimes this place is super busy,  think of any place that serves fish on a Friday during Lent.  There is also a lot of foot traffic from the take out orders, which seem to be really popular here.  

The seating is also like an old diner.  There are old, big, comfy booths that line the walls of the restaurant.  I like this because I feel like the enclosed booths offer more privacy,  so you can talk shit on anyone you want without your neighbors hearing.  Although I love the BYOB restaraunts in Collingswood,  they are over crowded and congested so hearing your dinner party can be difficult.  I don't feel that way at all at Sakana.  I feel like you'd be welcomed in sweatpants and a 6 pack of beer, as well as in a dress with a $50 bottle of wine.

They also have Thai and Chinese food,  which I feel like is par for the course for any kind of Asian restaurant these days.  So really you can bring someone who doesn't eat sushi because there is something for them to eat there.  Like Zachary,  who used to be obsessed with sushi until he threw up one time all night long,  and he hasn't eaten it since.  Which, can be heartbreaking.  Sushi is my first love.  And I can't share my first love with my second love anymore.   Now I am stuck with god damn wings,  believe me that's all I hear about.  Wings, wings, wings.   Anyway enough about my heartbreak,  this place also starts you off with Edamame,  which is definitely lighter then the usual Chinese fried chips which I can eat 3,000 of.

Onto the sushi pizza.  I literally cannot say enough good things.  Its fresh, creamy, and filling.  The smell that wafts off this little disc of happiness is amazing.  It just smells fresh.
It's from the appetizer menu,  but you could definitely make it into a meal with a seaweed salad or soup.  I've always gone with another person and split it as an app,  but it is filling.  One warning for you is do not go starving and expect it to be on your table in under 3 minutes.   I have not been there one time where it arrived before 15 minutes had passed.  It appears perfection takes time,  and this blogger is willing to wait for this little circular heaven.

The menu states that it's basically Spicy Tuna over a crispy tortilla.  I don't know who the hell wrote that description,  but it does the food no justice.  It's so much more than that.  First the crust,  or the crispy tortilla as they say,  is not really crispy at all.  If you've ever had a Chinese pizza or as some places call it a Scallion Pancak, then this will make sense.  It's thin like that,  but not deep fried so it's not crunchy.  It also does not have any scallions in it either,  which I am happy about because we don't need any of that takin away from the decadent fresh sushi.  The crust is soft but yet firm and holds the whole thing together well.   The crust is thick,  so it's gotta be at least eight of these pancakes squished together to make this perfect crust.

On top of that thick crust is a healthy portion of fresh tuna tartarki.  I had to google that last word,  because I had no idea what tartarki means.  To me it means "get in my belly", but to the Japanese it means pounded or hit into pieces.   The tuna is spicy,  but not soo much that it can't handle a little soy sauce with wasabi.  It is awesome dipped into some of that, just like a sushi roll.  

 It's got so much tuna on it,  that the price of $11.95 seems like an absolute steal.   You should eat it quickly,  before they figure out if they are charging too little for this 6 slice amazeballs thing.  Yes, I said it,  6 slices.  So each person get's 3 if you are splitting it with you and another person.  If you are splitting it with 3 people,  order 2.  Not because you physically need 2 to feel full,  because,  because.  That's why.  It will be the highlight of your day.  Don't short change yourself with only having two slices.

The fish is fresh,  and you know it's fresh because you smell every other aspect of the food-- but you don't smell anything fishy.   The fish is then topped with avocado which you can smell.  It's separated with all these fancy orange slices so you can slide each slice out easily.  If you ask me,  Chinese restaurants LOVE giving out orange slices.  I feel like they have stock in Florida Oranges or something.  They come with everything.  It's also sprinkled with a little bit of sesame seeds,  another staple in Japanese food.

I am urging you to go to Sakana Oriental  this Friday,  because ya know you aint supposed to eat meat.  Let me tell you how many times I've followed through with that rule...

Baked Coconut Chicken Nuggets

I really enjoy a good chicken nugget.  I also really enjoy when I can just eat them cold.  These nuggets of mine have a really nice balance of sweet and salty.  They are light and airy,  so you don't feel too bogged down by eating them.  The chicken nugget in itself is almost perfectly balanced with fat, carbs, and protein so you can feel comfortable having this as a prepped meal.    

When creating this I had the thought in my head that I needed something quick, easy, and that I could eat cold.  All day long during work I am in and out of schools and moving about.  I never really have time to sit down and eat.   So,  I really do need something I can carry around with a cold pack in my lunch box.  I also need something that's small enough to eat while driving.

This meal is all of the above for me.... I ate it for 2 weeks straight.

This recipe is super easy,   And pretty quick for how fabulous they turn out.  The chicken nuggets are tasty enough that kids would definitely eat them,  but healthy enough to trick the little suckers.  

Baked Coconut Chicken Nuggets
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  40-45 minutes
Servings:  Roughly 4

1 1/2 pounds of Chicken Breast
1/2 cup of Bob's Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut
1/4 cup of Shredded Sweetened Coconut
1/2 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Spray Coconut Oil

1.   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.   While the oven is preheating cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet.

3. Clean and cut the chicken into chunks similar size chunks (so they cook evenly).  Dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt, pepper,  and red pepper flakes on both sides.

4.   Set up a two plate and one bowl station.  On one plate mix the two different coconuts,  on the second plate put your panko bread crumbs,  and in the bowl beat two eggs together well.

5.  Set up your station in this order:  Chicken on cutting board,  egg,  panko bread crumbs, coconut,  and baking sheet. 

7.  Coat a nugget in egg,  then panko,  then back in egg,  then lastly in the coconut mixture.

8.  Place on the baking sheet and continue process until all off the nuggets are coated. 

9.  Flash freeze quickly for 10 minutes on the baking sheet to help the mixture stick to the nuggets.  Spritz with coconut oil spray.

10.  After ten minutes place the chicken in the hot oven on the top rack.  Allow to cook for 40 minutes,  turning once and spraying opposite side with coconut oil halfway through cooking process.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Best Food Ever: Chicken Francaise, Babe's Bar and Grill

The Best Food Ever: Chicken Francaise

So, your like, doesn't she work there? She must be biased.  Maybe, but in order to maintain my blogging reputation I asked people at the bar if they had this dish from Freddy and every single person who did exclaimed how good this chicken was.  One person even told me they loved it more then when they had it in Italy.  I did not get one bad review of this dish.

This chicken is absolutely out of this world.  I'm not sure I've ever had a more perfectly balanced chicken francaise.  It isn't too eggy or heavy,  the lemon sits just right where it needs to be, and the sauce isn't creamy and lumpy.  The lemon is tart, but not over powering which is nice.  Balance is everything in a good francaise dish.  I would know, I've been eating chicken francaise since my dad and mom used to take me to the diner as a kid.   If your not from NJ, then you don't know what high regard we have for diners.  If you think chicken francaise from a diner can't be good,  then you've obviously never been to a NJ Diner.  For that, I feel sorry for you.

In Southern NJ we hold our diners in  almost as high regard as our hole in wall bars. So.. Onto Babes.

So, the place: Babes Bar and Grill, Gibbstown NJ.  It's a small hole in the wall bar situated in the center of a small town.  A town small enough that everyone, knows everyone.  Like your mother knows your best friends aunts cousin twice removed and how she handled her divorce.   If your not from here, entering the bar can be a little intimidating at first (so I hear) but once your inside you'll be treated like family.   I've worked here about two years so I don't really think about it, but I do see hesitant outsiders can be. Chances are though, you pull up a seat at the bar someone from the town you don't know will end up buying you a drink. If I'm there I'll ask you why you came,  simply out of curiosity.  We were in the paper once for our wings,  so a lot of people have come for that reason.  Others,  passing by and saw us on Yelp.  

The bar has a oval bar downstairs and tables upstairs.  Babes has known it's fair share of tragedy.  Last year when the "straight line winds" hit us Babes was destroyed.  I remember it like yesterday because I was running into the front door as it was happening, and it was terrifying. Babes, our local watering hole,  was closed due to extensive damages from the end of June until October.  Didn't I say it's a small town? We literally had NO WHERE TO GO.   It was hard for us all to be away, and wonder what was going on in there.  I saw it one time toward the end and it was ripped down to the studs and sub floor.  There was nothing in there but material to rebuild.  The small town bar was rebuilt and customers rejoiced.  People came back in droves to see the new digs. We maintained one small part of the old bar,  where it says Babes Bar and Grill in the old yellow and brown decor of our years past.  It's a reminder,  I think,  of how far we have come from that storm.  

Babes is really a family place.  The owners named the place after their mother Babe, who turned 90 this year.  Babe is my grandmother, Tooties, best friend.  That's how small this town is.  Even people in their 90s have retained their 70 year friendships.......

Now,  the chef:  Freddy!  He's young and has all the ideas that your thinking your crazy, but, it works.  Often I say, alright can I have something for dinner? And he'll say what do you want? And I'll say you make something up.  And he never disappoints.  Except when he kept giving me things with mayonnaise. That was in the beginning of our friendship.  Now we are on solid ground where he understands my total disgust with mayonnaise.  So lets talk about Thursday specifically because Freddy shines on this end of the week it's almost damn Friday night.  Thursday is dinner night, hence where this chicken came from.  He's always serving fresh seafood,  and an awesome outsider dish you wouldn't expect, like Risotto.    In the summer there are crabs, and in the winter clams and monstrous mussels sit atop pasta in varying sauces.  He has a spicy Fra Diablo, a Creamy White Sauce, Alfredo,  you name it... he makes it.  

The food:  Chicken Francaise.  I particularly loved this because it was a light lemon sauce and nothing was too over powering.  I don't handle cream sauces well,  so I was at first hesitant to order this.   The sauce was lemony and creamy in a sense that you could tell a lot of love went into it,  but not in the sense that he added milk or heavy cream.  The glossy creaminess obviously came from the butter hitting the pan at the very end.

The chicken is pounded thin and tender then lightly floured.  The floured chicken breast is then put in a super screaming hot skillet.  From there Freddy begins creating...

His sauce is built right in the pan and its lemony tart and creamy from the Parmesan cheese.   Once the chicken is done he adds in white wine and chicken stock. To finish the cooking off he hits it with butter which makes the whole dish glossy.   He tops the sauce and chicken over your pasta preference with whatever the vegetable is fresh for him that night.  Lastly he hits it with fresh parsley and BAMMMM.  Mouth watering explosion.  Like,  all else around you stops because your friggan eating chicken heaven.

I'd absolutely recommend any dinner he makes, especially the Loaded Nachos.

  I'll have to blog about them another time.  Here's another good one,  Mussels in Red Sauce over Linguine.
Another Thursday night meal.   

But, if you asked Zach he'd only eat the wings.  That's all he ever gets.  Most people come for the wings,  because they don't know about Thursday night.  A little small town secret I'm letting out of the bag. Your welcome Southern New Jersey!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Lemon Parsley Salmon over Lemon Butter String Beans

This recipe is fast and healthy.  It's also a great way to get kids to like fish because it's still crunchy like its fried.  It's high in protein, and low in fat and carbohydrates.  This is the perfect week night meal for anyone looking to incorporate more fish in their diet.  I'm not going to rant on and on, because I think that about covers it!!

Lemon Parsley Salmon over Lemon Butter String Beans
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

2 lbs wild caught salmon
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon, divided in halves
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 lbs fresh string beans
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1tsp red pepper flakes

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and move the rack as close to the top of the oven as possible.

2. While the oven is preheating cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

3. Place the salmon skin side down on the aluminum foil and dry top well with paper towels.

4. Once the salmon is dry sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Remove the skin from the garlic and cut into thirds to make it easier for processing.

5. Put garlic and parsley in food processor and Pulse on high until well incorporated.

6. Into the food processor add red pepper flakes, panko bread crumbs, lemon zest, half of the lemon juice, and one tablespoon of olive oil.  Pulse until well incorporated.

7. Press mixture into the salmon

8. Drizzle with 1 tsp of olive oil

9. Once your oven is at 400 degrees place salmon on top rack for 10-12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).

10.  While the salmon is cooking bring enough water to a boil to cover the string beans. 

11. Remove ends and stems of string beans and place in boiling water for 3 minutes or until they turn bright green. Drain and return to pot.

12.  Squeeze in other half of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of butter,  and sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix well. Cover with a lid to keep warm. 

13. Remove salmon and allow to rest for 2 minutes.  Once rested use a spatula to remove the salmon skin which should slid off easily.

14.  Cut in half (if using one big filet) and serve each serving over the divided string beans.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quick Roasted Baby Bok Choy

Bok Choy seems like an odd vegetable to most. It's probably something you'd have no idea what to do with.  You also probably have seen it in the grocery story and thought it was spinach with a celery stalk bottom.  It's very similar to that.  Honestly  simply roasting it brings out its sweetness and the char on the leaves makes it crunchy.  Quick roasting it keeps it firm but chewable, which in my opinion makes you think your eating a lot more than you are. 

This vegetable is also perfect for prepping. In under 25 minutes I just made this and roasted asparagus to eat as snacks!  Combine the both with a meat or fish and you have a protein packed and healthy carb meal. 

Quick Roasted Baby Bok Choy 
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10- 12 minutes 
Serves: 2

1 pound baby Bok Choy
1 tsp olive oil 
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

2. While your oven is preheating cut the ends off of the Bok Choy and clean well with cold water.

3. Dry completely.

4.  Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and arrange Bok Choy on sheet with the green leaves facing inward.
5. Drizzle olive oil.  

6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

7.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until ends are translucent and leaves are wilted.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Best Food Ever: Cheese Fries with Short Rib Gravy, The Pour House:Westmont, NJ

The Best Food Ever: Cheese Fries with Short Rib Gravy, The Pour House: Westmont, NJ.

Shoestring french fries, covered in pulled short ribs and gravy, smothered in am american cheese sauce. 

In honor of the fact I love food,  I want to start a series on this blog called: The Best Food Ever.  I would love to claim this idea as my own,  but I cannot.  This is a series on the Food Network called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate:".    But since most of my followers are in the Southern New Jersey area,  I wanted to make this similar to the food network,  but more attainable for readers.

I'd like to consider myself a foodie, and a Beer-ie?  As a child, food was always important.  I learned to cook from my amazing father.  Probably the most important thing he ever taught me.  That and a strong work ethic.  At around 16 beer became important too.  But more like Boone's Farm and Natty Ice.  I wouldn't go back to those days,  unless your offering some MadDog 20/20 and some Vladdimir Vodka,  then nothing is off the table.

I wanted to start a part of this blog to show case local eats.  Local eats that blow my mind to be exact.  Zach actually loves these cheese fries so much, he once ordered a burger and asked for the short rib gravy on the fries that  come with it.  This was after we already ate the Short Rib Fries as an Appetizer...  Yes,  it's that good.  One Appetizer that can be shared between four people is just not enough apparaentally. 

I recommend pairing this appetizer with a cold beer.  Or if it's before 11:00am,  a Blood Mary.  I'm not judging you.  There isn't too much else you need in life.  Cold beer,  ewy gooey fries, man by your side (is that a country song?)  If that's what heaven is like (with puppies), passing on to the other side can't be half bad.

First,  lets address the digs:   The Pour House, Westmont, NJ It's easy to find,  and a short drive from most places in Southern New Jersey.  It's a small town environment,  and not fancy at all.  Just what this blogger likes.  The beer selection is massive,  which makes the place need a scrolling huge flat screen with the beer choices on it.  Your table also has a beer menu,  which more looks like a small novel.  The waitresses are friendly, and will suggest different beers suited to your tastes.    I'm not shy about hops so I like to try different beers.  My go to there however is any Lagunitas beer or any Allagesh. Wednesday nights are buck-a-shuck oysters,  which I also recommend if you like oysters.   The place is rather small,  so it gets packed quickly.  Get there early,  secure a bar seat or table,  and drink all day.

The Pour House is owned by PJ Whelihans.  And I know that when I first found that out my mind was blown.  I am not a big PJ's fan.  I always thought it was too chain like.  Like an Applebee's but with different food selections.  The Pour House, if you feel like me,  will change your whole outlook on PJ's.  It will likely become your go-to.  They also recently revamped the menu,  and they added this nice fried chicken slider delight.  If you are going all in on the Short Rib Fries,  I recommend this new tasty chicken sandwich: The Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich which is buttermilk fried chicken breast, pickles, sriracha mayo,  on a small little potato bun which makes them simply delightful.
I also recommend the Kickin Crunch Burger.  And that after you eat all of these things,  you should check your sugar.  This place isn't meant to be eaten at three times a week,  unless your into heart attacks and diabetes.  HOWEVERRRRRR,  the salads are phenomenal too if your trying to show everyone how healthy you are.  I am a big fan of the Beer Can Chicken Salad,  which let's be real,  probably still has about 800-1,000 calories.

Let's dissect these perfect French fries by starting with the base,  the fries.  I can't think of anything better then skinny French Fries.   It's like "I wanna be fat, but not too fat." But then you add the ewy gooey short rib gravy and a belt buckle must be undone.  A well deserved new hole you make with a kitchen knife on the old belt. I'm about that life. I do recommend you fit in some sort of workout other than 12 ounce curls for this decedent french fry compilation.

Now, onto the pulled and shredded short ribs.  It's like meat paradise.  It's melt in your mouth big shreds of MEAT!!!  The meat plays well off of the cheese. The meat is not stringy at all,  and just falls a part.  You can tell it's slow cooked for a  verrrrryyyyy long time. It's not too salty, and not bland at all. I don't even need to add salt,  which I usually do,  which usually drives bub mad.  He eats very little salt.

Lastly,  the whole thing is topped off with a creamy american cheese sauce. The menu says just american cheese, but a skilled cheese investigator can tell this is actually a cheese sauce of some sort. The cheese sauce is mild,  so it does not over power the meat or the fries.  They all kind of play nicely off of each other.  Not a single thing over powers the other.  

When you eat this,  you get a taste of the french fries,  the meat,  and the cheese.  They all combine so nicely,  but you do not miss any of the flavors.   I recommend using a fork, and asking for extra napkins!  

So, walk, run, or jog to the Pour House in Westmont, NJ.  This appetizer is calorie loaded, so I suggest some type of movement to get your ass into the seat and onto a good cold beer and hot fries!  You will not be disappointed.  And if you are,  it's because your a soulless wretch who complains too much.  That is not my problem.