The Copycat Chef

Vegetable Pot Pie

Posted by in Entree, Vegetarian

Vegetable Pot Pie

Sometimes I have really strange eating habits; aside from the kosher-ish thing. One of the things that creeps me out about food is eating meat in dough – so things like pelmeni, beef wellington, meat pies, chicken pot pie, etc. I’m not sure what it is about the combination of meat and dough but I refuse to try or eat it; it might be a conflict of texture or something along those lines. As I mentioned, one of the things I refuse to eat is chicken pot pie, so when my friend was telling me about how she made vegetable pot pie, I was pretty intrigued because I love vegetables and dough (don’t ask).

A few weeks after looking over the recipe I decided to finally take the plunge and try it; I bought some bigger ramekins since mine were a bit too shallow to fill with vegetable goodness and I got cookin’. The overall process was pretty easy as it simply involved chopping vegetables and cooking them on the stove top for a bit, filling the ramekins and then topping them with pastry dough. I didn’t attempt to make my own dough as baking related recipes aren’t my forte, so I used puff pastry, which is damn good, but I’m on a mission to make my own next time around.

After 20 min or so the vegetable pot pies are ready and they were beyond words delicious! The filling was warm, creamy and delicious, and the puff pastry was crispy which created the most perfect texture. I made 4 ramekins worth and threw the extra filling in the fridge and it made a fantastic lunch the next day with a bit of toasty bread.

Vegetable Pot Pie

Vegetable Pot Pie

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Kung Pao Chicken with Onions

Posted by in Chicken, Entree

Kung Pao Chicken with Onions

Have you ever made a recipe, liked it, and then made a different version of it later on? Typically if I make something and I like it, I just stick to that same recipe and carry on with my day. I’ve made Kung Pao chicken before and it was good but it didn’t have that wow factor that I now realize was missing – so naturally when I found a different recipe for Kung Pao chicken with onions I jumped at the opportunity to make it. This time around the dish was  was truly satisfying and I’m pretty sure I won’t be looking for an updated version anytime soon.

This version of Kung Pao chicken has onions, snow peas and has just the right amount of spice. The recipe says to use a spiralizer for the onions but since I have a hand held one and not the fancy version,  I used a mandolin to slice the sweet onions and ended up using the wrong setting (used the thinnest option). I learned the hard way because when the dish was finished, the onions were not prominent and pretty much shriveled up – still extremely good but it just didn’t look as pretty; next time around I’ll definitely use a thicker setting.

Also, I’d suggest marinating the chicken in the sauce for a few hours prior to cooking instead of simply adding the sauce afterwards for a more flavorful end result. I remember the last time I attempted this dish (with the older recipe) I didn’t do this and ended up regretting it. Don’t ask why you need to do this, just try it my way and you won’t be disappointed.

Kung Pao Chicken with Onions

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Eggs in a Basket Breakfast Sandwich

Posted by in Breakfast

Eggs in a Basket Breakfast Sandwich

This past week seems to be all about breakfast, maybe because it’s my favorite meal of the day. I really love going out for breakfast and having something hearty with a nice coffee – it really get’s my day started on the right foot. That being said, we only go out for breakfast once over the weekend and eat in the other day.

Typically we rotate between breakfast sandwiches, English muffins with cottage cheese or eggs and beef bacon. Since we bought some amazing torta’s I figured I’d go the breakfast sandwich route but I wanted to spice things up, and made an eggs in a basket breakfast sandwich. I’ve made eggs in a basket many times but I never thought to make a full blown breakfast sandwich out of it.

The top of the sandwich is eggs in a basket and the bottom half is a combination of avocado, cheese, mushrooms and beef bacon. Both slices put together create a delicious and hearty sandwich and is just as good as eating out if i do say so myself.

The great thing about this sandwich is that you can add any vegetables that you have on hand, I used mushrooms but sauteed onions, peppers, spinach or sun dried tomatoes would all be really tasty.

Eggs in a Basket Breakfast Sandwich

Eggs in a Basket Breakfast Sandwich

Eggs in a Basket Breakfast Sandwich
 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 torta's or bread of your choice
  • 2 eggs
  • Swiss cheese
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 1 avocado
  • 4-6 slices of bacon (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a nonstick skillet to medium low heat and heat another skillet to medium heat.
  2. Slice the torta's in half and lightly toast. Once toasted take the top slice and cut out a medium size square.
  3. Drizzle the skillet set to medium heat with olive oil and chop the mushrooms and add to the pan. Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes until cooked through, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Wipe the pan down and add desired amount of bacon (typically 2-3 slices per sandwich) and cook to desired crispness.
  4. Lightly spray the non stick skillet with cooking spray and add the top slice that you cut the hole in. Crack an egg into the hole and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes or until the egg is cooked to your liking.
  5. In the meantime spread ¼-1/2 of an avocado on the remaining slice of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the cooked mushrooms and cheese; if using bacon add it over the mushrooms and then add the cheese.
  6. Take the eggs in a basket top and close the sandwich. Broil for 1 minute or until cheese is melted.

 

 

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Best Beef Chili

Posted by in Beef, Entree, Soup

Best beef chili

Originally I was going to start this post off by saying that we’ve had a pretty mild winter with no snow here in Maryland, but with the recent snow storm that’s not very accurate. Over the weekend we got hit with 2-3 ft of snow and were stuck at home for 3 days – lots of fun! It was however the perfect opportunity catch up on shows, bake and eat soup. I’ve been making a good amount of soup this winter to keep warm and of course I’ve been making my favorite beef chili. The first time I attempted to make chili was in high school when I first realized that I loved to cook. I started by looking at a handful of recipes and ended up combining a few of them until I had the best beef chili recipe, or so I thought at that moment. But you know what, after taking my first stab at this classic dish, I stuck with the same recipe after all of these years.

I think what really makes this beef chili is the fact that the spices are added  3 different times during the cooking process, allowing the meat to absorb all of the flavorful spices as it slowly simmers, and the fact that it uses beer. Using this method does take about 2 hours but I think it’s well worth it, of course if you’re in a pinch you can always cut down the simmering time in each step, taking the entire cooking time down to an hour or less. I added approximate measurements for all of the spices but I end up adding a bit more of everything at the end for added flavor…I think eyeballing spices for beef chili is the way to go.

Best beef chili

Best Beef Chili
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1.5 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups beef stalk
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup dark beef
  • onion powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Oil the bottom of a pan and add the beef and onions and lightly brown.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, beef stalk, jalapeno and Anaheim peppers, bring to a boil then simmer for 30 min.
  3. Drop 1: Add 1 tbsp chili powder, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp salt, ½ tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, ½ of the beer. Cook for 1 hour over medium low heat. Stir occasionally and add water if necessary.
  4. Drop 2: 1 tsp chili powder, ½ tbsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, remaining beer. Add the beans, stir everything together and allow to simmer for another 30 min adding water if necessary.
  5. Drop 3: 1 tsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed before serving.

 

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Raw Carrot Salad

Posted by in Salad, Side Dish

 

Raw Carrot Salad

I always strive to have some sort  of vegetable with every dinner because we don’t always get our greens in during the day; if there aren’t vegetables in the main entree, I’ll make roasted vegetables or a salad. Now, most of the time I don’t get too creative with my salads as they’re usually an after thought and I don’t have the energy or patience to make anything new. I changed that this week with this simple, yet delicious, raw carrot salad.

What I love the most about this salad is that it doesn’t require that many ingredients and luckily I had everything on hand so I didn’t need to make any additional purchases during my weekly shopping trip. To make this raw carrot salad you simply need to peel the carrots and then continue peeling until you get thick ribbons, and you top that with a delicious yogurt, honey, lime and harissa dressing. Harissa is typically used in middle eastern foods and tends to be on the spicy side, but don’t let that stop you from adding it to the dressing. I’d suggesting using a smaller amount if you’re adverse to heat as it really does add a great flavor without being spicy – I honestly didn’t even taste the spice! The end result is a refreshing, crispy and crunchy  salad with a hint of sweetness…we ate it all up.

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Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Linguine

Posted by in Entree, Vegetarian

mushroom and sun-dried tomato linguine

I’m not an creative person which is interesting since I went to art school most for most my childhood. Now, I’m not talent-less but I just come up with a composition in my head; I recreate other pieces of artwork. The same goes for cooking, I’m good at recreating existing recipes, which is why religiously follow other blogs and post my favorite findings on my own blog, but very rarely can I come up with my own recipe. That doesn’t mean that I never come up with my own dishes but it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like…that being said I’m happy to say I’ve created something on my own – although this mushroom and sun-dried tomato linguine isn’t complicated, it’s really good.

For me recipe development happens when I’m in borderline starvation mode, at which point I’m rummaging through my fridge and pantry but I still have enough energy to make something other than a salad. So earlier last week I was in this state and saw that I had some mushrooms that had to be used sooner than later and the mushroom and sun-dried tomato linguine was born. This pasta took about 12 minutes to make which is perfect for days’ when you’re running low on time to make lunch or dinner and want something quick and easy yet filling and flavorful.

mushroom and sun-dried tomato linguine

Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Linguine
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz Linguine (i used gluten free)
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms of choice (I used baby bella)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Coconut oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Slat and pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Boil the pasta per package instructions. In the meantime heat a skillet over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Once melted add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the garlic and cook 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms start to sweat. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook a few more minutes before removing from heat.
  3. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and add to a bowl with the mushrooms. Drain the pasta and add to the same bowl.
  4. Dress with avocado oil and lemon juice adding additional salt and pepper to taste. Finish off with chopped parsley.

 

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Caprese Avocado Toast

Posted by in Appetizer, Vegetarian

caprese avocado toast

My love for Pinterest is undeniable; I pin recipes and outfits like a maniac who thinks the world is about to end. Sometimes I’ll go on Pinterest to browse when I’m bored and 30 minutes later I have 100+ pins – maybe that’s normal but I’m leaning towards the fact that it’s not, and I’m OK with that.

The other day I had a meeting during lunch, story of my life, and I was running out of ideas for a quick lunch to get me through the next hour or 2 that wasn’t avocado toast or bean salad. I’m a huge lover of avocado toast but sometimes you need to switch things up, so I turned to Pinterest. After about 2 minutes I came across the most amazing looking caprese avocado toast that I literally jumped to try…so much for not having avocado toast for lunch.

I had some torta’s in the freezer so I lightly toasted 2 slices and topped them with avocado, pepper, cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella and balsamic glaze.  Oh My Goodness, I can’t even get started on how delicious and satisfying this was – caprese avocado toast is officially my new favorite bread topping.

caprese avocado toast

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Miso sweet potato and broccoli

Posted by in Side Dish

Miso sweet potato

I really like Asian food – it’s definitely one of the top cuisines that I like to make at home. I’m not sure why I tend to gravitate towards Asian cuisine but perhaps its because the food is always so flavorful and rarely disappoints.  I like salads, noodles, pan fried chicken and beef, sushi…you get the point. One condiment that I always keep on had is white miso paste; it’s such a versatile item.

Typically I use miso paste to make miso soup, how shocking, and I also use it in dressings to add a nice flavorful salty touch. I honestly haven’t ventured anywhere past that which is quite unfortunate considering how great this little condiment is. I’ve also only used white miso but I’m curious to try red miso paste and see how it varies in flavor.

I searched around to see what else I could use miso in and came across this miso sweet potato and broccoli recipe. The original recipe is for a bowl but I skipped the rice and simply made the miso sauce and drizzled it over the baked sweet potato and broccoli. The sauce is tangy and a bit salty and oh so good but it should definitely be used sparingly as it can overpower the vegetables quite a bit.

Overall I really enjoyed this miso sweet potato and broccoli dish and I’d definitely make it again and maybe add some additional vegetables such as mushrooms and leeks.

 

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Thai Steak Salad

Posted by in Beef, Entree, Salad

Thai Steak Salad

During the weekends we typically don’t eat very healthy – we have french toast, donuts or breakfast sandwiches for breakfast, burgers or sandwiches for lunch and soup and various entree combinations for dinner, which is sometimes followed by dessert. Now we don’t have all of those items every single weekend, but you get the idea. So after a weekend of cheating, I like to start the week off with a vegetarian dish, or in this case a nice and light, yet filling, Thai steak salad.

The great things about salads is that they’re healthy and refreshing and when paired with a protein, they’re also super filling. This Thai steak salad is filled with nutritious vegetables like carrots, peppers, cucumbers (both not part of the original recipe but a great addition) and bean sprouts, and refreshing garnishes like cilantro, mint and basil. The steak is cooked to perfection and thinly sliced then topped with a garlic and ginger (another addition) dressing that brings everything together. Yes, you’re eating a salad but the steak really adds a hearty and filling aspect to the dish.

If a salad isn’t enough to fill you up for dinner, start the meal off with a hot bowl of white miso soup; soup is a great alternative to a traditional side dish and its always welcomed when the cold weather starts creeping in.

Thai Steak Salad

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Eggnog Challah French Toast

Posted by in Breakfast

Eggnog Challah French Toast

I feel like I’m not alone when I say this, but I’ve never tried eggnog…that is until this holiday season. While I was grocery shopping over the holidays I kept seeing eggnog all over the place and passed it each time until I finally decided to give it a try. I’ve heard that eggnog is a hit or miss in terms of flavor and for me it was a definite hit – it’s not something I can drink in one sitting, but having a sip here and there is satisfying.

I bought some freshly baked challah at the store and per usual I went to make french toast, which then turned into eggnog challah french toast. I wasn’t expecting much but damn, it was good! The eggnog gave the french toast a great brandy flavor which made the dish seem even fancier.

All in all, if you haven’t tried eggnog do so, and if you’ve tried it and you’re not a fan then make eggnog challah french toast and you’ll turn back.

Eggnog Challah French Toast
 
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf of challah bread
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ eggnog
  • ½ milk
  • ¼ tsp nugmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the loaf of challah and place pieces into a baking dish.
  2. Wisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the slices of challah - moving pieces around until every inch is covered. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Heat a griddle over medium heat. As you pick up each slice of challah let any access mixture drip off before placing on the griddle. Cook on each side for 3 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Serve with your favorite maple syrup and powered sugar.

 

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