recipes

What’s In the Box: Plated

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Plated is a delivery service that sends the freshest ingredients to your door so that you can make dinners like a boss. They include just about everything you need from the stars of the entree, straight down to the oils and small packets of butter you’ll want to have to enhance the flavor.

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We decided to try their initial offer, and ordered 3 meals: Thai peanut chicken, portobello burgers, and pollack with fennel and blood orange.

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When you open up the box, it looks a little something like that (above). Even though we’re in Texas, the food was still cold by the time I got it, and the freshness of the herbs was still intact.

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I must admit that the pollack dish, which even contained green olives, was one of my absolute faves. It did need some additional salt, but what doesn’t?

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Plated has certainly made the past 3 nights interesting for me, and it was a lot of fun to watch my partner go all Chef Emeril in the kitchen. Think of it like having a romantic dinner prepared by you/for you every night, and you get all the fun of cooking it. It helped us to break out of our routine ‘go to meals,’ and we really enjoyed the process.

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Low-Carb Breakfast: Bell Pepper Eggs

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There are some dishes that look prettier than they taste. For example: eggs baked in avocado. I don’t care what food blogger told you that it was ‘amazing,’ they are are filthy liars and shouldn’t be trusted. (Also, sorry about that time I Instagram’ed that exact dish and pretended it was amazing.) Bell pepper eggs are not like that. They actually taste as good as they look! Promise.

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I’ve tried it twice, and found the best method to be cutting the bell pepper in half, and using both halves as egg-holders. It does take some de-seeding, but it’s nothing major. Even a novice can tackle this dish.

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Pre-heat the oven to 350, and drop your eggs in those bell pepper cups. You’ll want to add salt and pepper, or even herbs! I added a handful of mozzarella to mine, but to make it Paleo, you can omit this.

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The baking time is closer to ~40 minutes (depending on how ‘done’ you want your eggs), but it’s worth it for the char you will eventually get on the pepper. This dish is absolutely delicious, and a fantastic way to get your veggies and protein in. I threw in some de-seeded jalapeños with cheese on my last bake, and everything came out cooked to perfection. Wait for the egg to look done, and the cheese to begin to brown, and you’ll know it’s ready.

Sensational Side: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

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I know what you’re thinking: What’s the easiest possible side dish to bring to Thanksgiving? One that makes it looks like I put in a lot effort, when I really just slapped 2 ingredients together, and made them look and taste phenomenal without breaking a sweat? 

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At least that’s what I was thinking.

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This dish makes a great low-carb side, and it’s excellent as a party snack. Simply take a bunch of asparagus, and a few thinly sliced pieces of bacon (I sliced mine vertically in half), and wrap the bacon around each stalk. Spread a bit of olive oil on a baking pan, and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until you see that the bacon is done. If you’re using thinner stalks, you may want to cook for a shorter amount of time. That’s it!

Beer Pairing: Central Market + Brooklyn Brewery

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Nothing says summer quite like burgers and beer, but Central Market decided to take it one step further with a multi-course beer pairing featuring selections from the acclaimed Brooklyn Brewery.

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It was admittedly my first time at the Central Market Cooking School, but I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. We were provided with menus, recipes, and an in-depth guide to the beer that we were about to sample. First course: Grapefruit, Asparagus & Pecorino Salad paired with Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55. The Brooklyn Brewery representative, a very experienced brew master, mentioned that this beer was English-style, and my English partner agreed.

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Next up, we learned how to prepare Lobster Chorizo Pasta. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s lobster that is cooked alongside chorizo, and not some mysterious, new seafood-sausage dish. The beer for this plate was the Local 1, a delicious Belgian-style beer that’s fermented inside the bottle (like Champagne!). This was probably my favorite thing both food and drink-wise of the night.

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After further stuffing ourselves with burgers and Brooklyn Summer Ale, we moved on to a presentation on how to prepare Lamb Scottadito, meanwhile learning the proper way to taste beer between each plate.

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The lamb was served with a dark, brown ale; a contrast to the East India Pale Ale that we were about to sample both inside and outside of our crepes.

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The final course came around, and surprisingly we didn’t explode before it arrived. The crepes themselves had beer as an ingredient, and we were taught the short, but painstaking process it takes to prepare such a delicate dish. The beer proved to not be painfully hoppy, which was a pleasant surprise. If you’d like to catch one of these dinners near you, be sure to check out Central Market’s website. And if you don’t have a Central Market nearby, you’re still sure to have easy access to a delicious array of Brooklyn Brewery beers.

Inside the Box: Mantry

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I recently threw a fantastic Thai dinner party, and I owe it all to a hip, new monthly subscription service called Mantry.

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Each month they send high-end, artisanal food products matching a theme such as coffee, bacon, or in our case –  Thai.

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Once I surveyed the box, which included  products such as Dried & True Sriracha Beef Jerky, and drinking vinegar from the world-famous Pok Pok restaurant, I knew that a get-together was in order. The stuff was just too nice not to share!

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We carefully read their enclosed product guide, gathering ideas for what to make.

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Then we rounded up a few extra ingredients, and set off to our friend’s house to do the cooking. (His house is much, much nicer than ours – plus he has a fully stocked bar.)

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We snacked on a few the items as we cooked, including the Dallas-based Lord Nut Levington’s Thai-Dyed Peanuts.

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I took full advantage of our host’s prior bar-tending experience, and had him make delicious summer cocktails from the drinking vinegar.

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I essentially had a house full of men all doing the dirty work (cooking) for me.

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We made shrimp and used Apinya for the dipping sauce. It was fantastic – I think I may prefer it to sriracha now, and normally nothing tops that condiment for me.

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I sampled a few of the other enclosed ingredients, and secretly wished that we had thought to make Thai nachos.

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We meandered through all of the enclosed delicacies until at last we arrived at the coconut chips, which alongside raspberries helped to elevate our simple vanilla ice cream dessert.

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If you’re looking for a creative, delicious, and unexpected Father’s Day gift, be sure to check out Mantry. The items they will send you are normally hard-to-find, and make eating an exciting adventure, as opposed to an everyday chore.

Disclosure: I received this box free of charge for reviewing purposes, but opinions expressed are my own.

Recipe: Cajun-Spiced Poached Egg Over Sautéed Mushrooms

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As a pescatarian on the Atkins diet, I have to cook a LOT of eggs. In fact, if I ever see an omelette again, I will scream. Given my extremely limited diet, I have become a Food Network star in the kitchen. (Most of the time. There was an unfortunate incident involving fish, but we won’t talk about that.) The cajun-spiced poached eggs that I made this weekend were truly one of the greatest things I’ve accomplished, and my partner can vouch for it. (He’s already requested that I make them again.) If you’re looking for something low-carb, low-cal, vegetarian-friendly, and exceptionally delicious – look no further than this recipe:

1 egg

oil (enough to cook with)

white vinegar and salt (just enough to poach the egg)

1T of veganaisse or mayonnaise

cayenne pepper

freshly cracked black pepper (don’t you dare use pre-ground pepper)

creole seasoning (Tony Chachere’s is the only brand you can use. I’m Cajun, trust me.)

handful of each of the following 3 ingredients:

arugula

mushrooms (sliced)

shredded romano cheese

If you don’t know how to poach an egg, don’t worry. I’m a complete screw-up, and if I can do it – you can do it. Get a pot of water boiling over medium-high heat. You don’t want it to be a violent rumble, like a crazy witch’s cauldron. You want just a gentle boil. Make sure that you add in a healthy splash of white vinegar and salt. I don’t know why vinegar makes the egg stay together, but it does. I’m not Neil deGrasse Tyson, so we’re just going to assume that vinegar is magic.

While you’re waiting for this, and if you feel like multi-tasking, go ahead and put some oil in a pan. On medium heat, sauté your sliced mushrooms, adding in the arugula and romano cheese once the mushrooms look almost done. Is that water boiling in the other pan yet? Okay. Time to poach the egg.

This is the moment of truth. Crack your egg into a bowl, and generously shake the creole seasoning onto it. Take a spoon, and stir the boiling water. Really stir it. Make a swirl. If you don’t get the water swirling, then you don’t get your poached eggs, so focus! Once the swirl is going strong, slowly pour your egg from the bowl into the center of the cyclone. Now turn that burner off. Don’t ask questions. Don’t touch anything, don’t move the pot, don’t mess with the egg. Just turn the burner off, and LEAVE IT ALONE for 4-5 minutes. This is a pretty exact science, so you better look at the clock.

Plate your mushroom mixture, and feel free to add salt or pepper if you haven’t already. This is all to your taste. Once the egg has been sitting for the 4-5 minutes, gently remove it with a slotted spoon. Let me stress this again: GENTLY. Lay the egg atop your vegetables, and add a dollop of veganaisse (I swear I think I’m misspelling this) on the side. Feel free to cover it all in cayenne and even more black pepper, because that’s how I roll, and pepper is delicious. The end. Enjoy your egg. 🙂