Indispensable Pesto

This is a modified recipe from The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook. Warning: this pesto will leave a strong garlic taste in your mouth. Use less garlic if you plan on smooching anyone later in the night. For a healthy alternative try it over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.

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1 cup grated fresh Parmesan

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup melted butter (or dairy-free, non-hydrogenated Earth Balance)

10-20 cloves fresh garlic (I use the whole bulb)

1 tbs pine nuts (I throw in a handful, because I love them)

3/4 olive oil

salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Using a blender or food processor, grate enough Parmesan cheese to make one cup; add basil.
  2. Then add melted butter, followed by garlic, pine nuts and finally the oil.
  3. Allow each added ingredient to blend smoothly with the preceding ones, and let stand at least one hour.
  4. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  5. Mix pesto with pasta fresh from the boiling water. Do not add too much pesto, but allow each person a chance to adjust flavor to taste, by adding more pesto if desired.
  6. Leftover pesto will last for a quite a long while if refrigerated in a plastic container, but do not freeze.

Curried Mahi Mahi baked over Chickpea Cauliflower Rice (+ grilled asparagus)

My own rendition of a recipe I learned in a Sur La Table cooking class.

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Ingredients:

1/2 lb Mahi Mahi (frozen or fresh)

16 oz or 1 bag cauliflower rice

1 can garbanzo beans

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon garlic

1/4th teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4th teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

I served it with Trader Joe’s Balela Chickpea Salad.

Directions:

  1. Combine the curry powder, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and paprika together.
  2. Purée (or blend) the chickpeas with ~half of the spices. If it is too thick, add a splash of water. In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower rice and chickpea purée together. Pour in a baking dish.
  3. Combine the remaining spices with the yogurt and lemon.
  4. Place the Mahi Mahi (if frozen be sure to thaw beforehand) on the cauliflower chickpea mixture. Spread the yogurt mix over the top of the fish.
  5. Sprinkle the olive oil, salt, and pepper over the whole dish.
  6. Transfer to the oven and bake until the fish is firm and no longer translucent in the center, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Bake at 275 degrees.

 

Savory Veggie Oatmeal

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I discovered this amazing concoction by combining all the ingredients left in my fridge at the end of the week. I added sweet potato, spinach, corn, and cauliflower rice but this recipe can be made with any veggies. It is simple and satisfying.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oats

1 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon olive oil or butter

1 egg

1/4th cup sweet potato (baked)

1/4th cup spinach

1/4th cup corn (steamed)

1/4th cup cauliflower rice (frozen)

Parmesan cheese (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Bring the broth to a boil then reduce to a simmer and stir in oats.
  2. Cook for about 10 minutes until the oats begin to absorb the broth. Stir in more chicken broth as needed.
  3. Once the oats start to thicken add the rest of the ingredients. I baked the sweet potato the night before and I steamed corn on the cob. I used frozen cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s. On a side note, cauliflower rice is a great alternative to rice or pasta. TJ’s sells it frozen or raw. If you cook it with brown rice, broth, and parmesan cheese it resembles risotto. Recipe to come!
  4. Place an egg on top and serve!

Breaded Curry Cauliflower

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Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2/3rds cup coconut cream (canned from TJs)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the cauliflower into large pieces.
  2. Mix together the coconut cream, egg, almond meal, curry powder, coconut oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Coat each piece of cauliflower with the mixture.
  4. Cover a baking sheet with coconut oil and cook the cauliflower at 350 degrees for 25- 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with ketchup or dijon mustard. Enjoy!

Breakfast Cups

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Ingredients:

1 ½ cup oats

3/4th cup almond meal

3/4th cup dates

½ cup coconut oil

1/4th cup maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Yogurt (I recommend Noosa or Coconut Bliss)

Fresh fruit (Strawberries or blueberries)

Directions:

  1. Blend the oats and almond meal in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender until they are powder.
  2. Add the dates, coconut oil, sweetener, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend until smooth. Add more coconut oil if the dough is too dry. The dough should be thick and easy to mold.
  3. Grease muffin tins with coconut oil or butter.
  4. Place roughly 1 tablespoon or large spoonful of the mixture in each tin.
  5. Mold the mixture into the sides of the tin with your hands.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes then place the cups on a cooling rack.
  8. Place a dollop of yogurt inside and fresh fruit on top. Enjoy!

Thanks a brunch, SF!

Waking up Saturday morning is my favorite part of my week—you have the whole weekend in front of you. I enjoy starting it off with an almond milk latte and eggs benedict at a bustling cafe. Luckily, there is no shortage of brunch options in San Francisco. There are over ten decent places walking distance from my apartment in the Marina. I’m naturally an early  riser  and I immediately start thinking about breakfast. I try to wait until at least 10 so I can consider breakfast…brunch. Needless to say, my friends and I are the first in line. I love the energy and excitement (probably caused by the caffeine) at brunch as my friends and I eagerly share our latest life updates. The atmosphere is carefree and giddy. Nothing compares. Here are some of my favorite places from the past two months:

Tipsy Pig (Marina) Popular bar by night and trendy brunch tavern by day

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Goat Cheese-Chive Scramble

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Dutch Pancake

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Regular Bloody Mary

I was pleasantly surprised by the food and atmosphere. We sat in the back patio on a nice day and it was the best brunch experience I’ve had in the city. My friend and I shared the Dutch pancakes (with candied bacon, caramelized strawberries, and ricotta cheese) and the goat cheese-chive scramble (with asparagus and prosciutto). My other friend ordered the breakfast sandwich, which wasn’t as good. Everything was very tasty though. They have excellent Bloody Marys as well. I recommend the regular, not the spicy one. Recommend: Dutch pancakes, goat cheese- chive scramble, and the regular Bloody Mary. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

The Mill (Alamo Square) Eclectic and airy café known for their fresh bread and spreads

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Ham and Cheese Pastry

They also serve four barrel coffee and decadent pastries. I came with a group of friends and we ordered everything on the menu—granted they only have 4 specialty toast options a day. I ordered whole wheat poppy seed bread with house-made pear blueberry jam and butter. I would come here alone to read and sip on coffee. You order at the counter then find a table. On the weekends the line will be out the door. It is also around the corner for Alamo Square Park. Recommend: Everything—you can’t go wrong! (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Jane on Fillmore (lower pac heights) Small bustling cafe with light and creative breakfast options, Stumptown coffee, and homemade baked goods

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They offer a simple and healthy menu. Some options include avocado toast (with pickled onions and jalapenos on homemade sourdough), chia seed parfait (with berries and house-made granola), and gluten-free pastries. They also have gluten-free bread available. Great lattes and cappuccinos made with Straus milk. They have soy and almond milk available as well. It gets crowded on the weekends but the line goes pretty quick. This is the kind of cafe I envision myself opening (way down the road). Recommend: Chia Seed Pudding and avocado toast (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Brenda’s French Soul Food (Tenderloin) Southern comfort food with Creole and French influence

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Pulled-Pork Eggs Benedict

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Special Breakfast Sandwich of the day

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Beignet Flight

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Open-face egg sandwich and creamy grits

It is a very popular spot so go early or get Philz Coffee (around the corner) while you wait. You have to order the beignet flight (chocolate, apple, crab, and traditional). The savory crab and traditional were my favorite. Most breakfast dishes are served with creamy grits or potatoes. I ordered the creamy grits but wished I ordered the potatoes. The grits are extremely rich (loaded with butter and cream) so it is hard to eat more than half of the heaping bowl they give you. The portions are large—no one finished their meal. Overall the food was very tasty but a little too heavy for me. Recommend: pulled pork eggs Benedict or goat cheese omelet. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Sol Food (Marin) Healthy Peruvian food

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You order at the counter then find a table. We ordered the bistec platter, bistec sandwich, veggie sandwich, and fried plantain chips. I recommend ordering half regular plantains and half garlic plantains. The platter comes with a large serving of the bistec, black beans, rice, garlic, salad, and fried plantains. They also make their own limeade. It is the kind of food where you feel satisfied and full but not uncomfortable. It is very colorful and lively inside with large communal tables. Great food and company. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself here. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Causwells (Marina) Another great brunch spot in the marina

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Pork Hash

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Chilaquiles

We sat outside on a perfect sunny afternoon. I ordered the omelet of the day, which was Canadian bacon, arugula, caramelized onions, sweet potatoes, and Parmesan cheese. A perfect combination. My friends ordered the Chilaquiles (tortilla chips, salsa, black beans, scrambled eggs, and sour cream) and the Pork Hash (braised pork, potatoes, and a fried egg). They are known for their breakfast hamburger that I’ve heard is spectacular. Recommend: Pork Hash and Omelet. (5 taste, 5 service, 5 atmosphere)

Blackwood (Chestnut St, Marina) Chic traditional American breakfast with an Asian twist

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My favorite brunch place in the Marina. Most brunch dishes have an asian twist and flavor. They have excellent dinner as well. It is the same owners as Sweet Maple and Kitchen Story. There is always a wait on the weekend and they do not take reservations for brunch (like most popular brunch places). Recommend: the BQ Scramble (chicken apple sausage, sweet basil, shallots, and carrots) and the eggs Benedict with millionaire’s bacon. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)

Belga (Marina) Sophisticated European style café with dishes ranging from French Croque Madame to German sausages

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They also offer brunch and happy hour. They have fun drink options like Devil’s Advokaat (brandy, egg, lemon, & nutmeg) or Oude Cobbler (aged genever, vermouth, lemon, sugar, sherry, berries). They have the best cinnamon brioche beignets served with whipped crème fraiche. Recommend: Veggie frittata (squash and goat cheese) or flat bread with shaved brussels sprouts and a fried egg. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 4 service)

El Techo (Mission) Trendy Argentinean tapas and brunch dishes situated on a rooftop in the heart of the Mission

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I came here for a friend’s birthday. On a nice day you have a beautiful view of the city—unfortunately it was raining when we went. The food is great. I ordered the Chorizo Scramble with roasted veggies and potatoes. The potatoes were amazing but I was not a fan of the chorizo. I preferred my friend’s Techo Rancheros (tortilla, pork, fried eggs, salsa, and beans). Recommend: Techo Rancheros and the fresh squeezed OJ. (4 taste, 5 service, 5 atmosphere)

Grove (Pac Heights) Rustic café serving traditional breakfast and lunch dishes

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I ordered the avocado toast and my friend ordered the breakfast sandwich. The rosemary potatoes were disappointing but overall I would recommend this place to someone looking for a casual and reasonably priced brunch place. They have great pies too! The service is a little slow. You order at the counter then find a seat. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)

Perry’s (Financial District and Marina) American soups, salads, and sandwiches

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They also have decent brunch and happy hour.  There are 3 locations in the city: Cow Hollow, Embarcadero, and Potrero. The Embarcadero location near the water and is a perfect place to come on a nice day. The food is decent but you get what you expect. They do not experiment with unique flavors, spices or combinations. It’s a perfect go-to restaurant to bring your non-adventurous/picky friend who is visiting.  Recommend: California Eggs Benedict (comes with avocado, tomato, and spinach). (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Turkey Quinoa Burgers

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Ingredients:

16 oz or 1 lb ground turkey or chicken

1 egg

1 carrot

1 zucchini

2 green onions

1 cup quinoa

1 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons garlic (finely chopped or powder)

1 teaspoon flaxseeds

A pinch of salt and pepper

Oil

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly and cook according to the directions. Once the quinoa is tender (around 10-15 minutes) set aside and let cool.
  2. Grate the carrot and zucchini.
  3. Combine the ground turkey, egg, carrot, zucchini, green onions, and quinoa. Mix together then add the thyme, garlic, flaxseeds, salt, and pepper.
  4. Roll about 3 tablespoons worth of the mixture into a patty.
  5. Either grill or fry on a pan. Cook the patties for about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  6. Garnish with your favorite toppings and spreads! I served my burgers on a whole-wheat bun with avocado, sprouts, and Dijon mustard.

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 carrot (grated)

1 zucchini (grated)

1 onion (thinly sliced)

2 tablespoons garlic (minced)

1 teaspoon ginger

1 pound ground turkey

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pack mushrooms (~1 cup)

Micro greens

2 green onions plus more for garnishing

Lettuce

Cheese

Avocado

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Grate the zucchini and carrots.
  2. Sauté the onions, zucchini, carrots, ginger, and garlic together.
  3. Once the onions turn golden add the ground turkey.
  4. Mix in the rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Cook until the turkey is browned.
  5. Add the cup of mushrooms and continue to stir. Once the mushrooms are soft (around 4 minutes) add the green onions and micro greens.
  6. Place the mixture in the lettuce cups and add your toppings.

Veggie Spring Rolls

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Ingredients:

1 shredded carrot

1 yellow or orange bell pepper (thinly sliced)

1/2 cup sprouts

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 cucumber thinly sliced

2-3 leaves of chard

2 small radishes

12 mint leaves (one for each roll)

Rice paper

Chili flakes

Peanut Lime Sauce:

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar

1 teaspoon tamari

1 teaspoon honey

Dash of chili flakes

Directions:

  1. Cut the vegetables into thin slices. Shred the carrot and cabbage.
  2. Fully immerse each piece of rice paper into warm water for 2-3 seconds. Do not over soak because the rice paper will fall apart.
  3. Once the rice paper turns soft and gelatinous place it on a plastic cutting board. I recommend a plastic surface because the paper will stick to wood.
  4. Place the veggies in the center of the rice paper. Fold over the sides then tightly roll it together.

Makes 12 rolls

I recommend eating the spring rolls fresh. They keep for a couple of days but the rice paper gets hard in the refrigerator.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

 

Sweet Potato Chips and Black Bean Dip

 

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Here’s a healthy alternative to chips and dip. Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Chips:

4-5 sweet potatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Black Bean Dip:

1 cup black beans

Juice of 1 lime (plus zest)

1/4th teaspoon paprika

1/2th teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon cumin

Pinch of chili flakes

Cilantro (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the sweet potatoes into thin slices. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Roast at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Blend all the black bean ingredients together. Sprinkle chili flakes and cilantro on top.