Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice 

Usually, Saturdays are cooking days in my house while I get ready for my blog dates with Merideth. In the heat of the summer, this is way less exciting. I just got back from a week in California and, now that I’m home in, realized I never truly appreciated how absolutely hot it is in Florida. This minimal-cooking, refrigerator friendly recipe is perfect for lazy, hot summer afternoons when you want to make the most of your air conditioning and chilled white wine.

Ingredients

Ahi Tuna and Marinade 

  • 1 tuna steak, sushi grade (about 1lb), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs ground ginger 
  • Toppings: Sriracha, green onions, and/or sesame seeds (optional)

Avocado Rice

  •  2 cups cooked jasmine rice 
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper 

Instructions

  1. Whisk marinade ingredients together and pour over tuna in a bowl and Marinade for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Stir diced avocado into jasmine rice until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and ginger.
  3. Top rice with marinated tuna and other accompaniments as desired.

Wine Pairing: Though I’m tempted to justify a Pinot noir because I tend toward red wine, this tuna was great with a Pinot Grigio, which is slightly sweeter than a Sauvignon Blanc without being too rich.

“PB&J” Cookie Tart

As Amanda mentioned last week with her amazing Scallops with Strawberry Spinach Salad, we are big fans of Masterchef and Gordon Ramsay in general. For this date, we wanted to make something that would fit the “me-on-a-plate” guidance that the judges often give to competitors to inspire them to cook their very best that is close to their heart. I was a bit stumped on this one, but I knew that baking is my first love and it had to be a dessert.

Anyone who knows me knows that trying new food was a bit of a challenge for me for most of my life. Unfortunately do not have a classic, romantic story about how the perfect bouillabaisse in France touched my lips and changed my life, or how I’d grown up eating new flavors that inspired my love of cooking. There were a lot of chicken nuggets and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in my life and I liked it that way just fine. There still are a lot but, you know,  I space it out now.

Instead I was always eager to whip up a batch of cookies or brownies, and dinner was just a formality to make it through to dessert. So, for this challenge, I wanted to bring the classic flavors any kid would love, that PB&J, and combine it with my love of baking into something remotely masterchef worthy.

Would Chef Ramsay throw it back in my face if he took a bite? Not sure…
Did it all disappear into our tummies by the end of the weekend because we thought it was so delicious? You know that’s right!

Almond Butter Cookie Crust

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients until fully mixed.
  3. Press the dough into a 9-inch pie plate or spring-form pan in an even layer across the bottom and slightly up the sides if able.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until crust looks dry and has risen slightly.
  5. Remove from oven and using a heat resistant, flat bottomed cup, press gently into the center of the crust to flatten. Press against the sides to form the edges so that you have what resembles a tart crust.
  6. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan, and save for assembly. Note: This crust is very chewy and delicate so it might help to chill in the fridge before removing from the pan. 

 

Strawberry Puree Whip

  • 1 Packet of gelatin
  • 3 Tbsp boiling water
  • 1 Pint strawberries, greens removed and roughly chopped (can also use frozen, but definitely get some fresh ones for garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream

Instructions: 

  1. Bloom the gelatin in the boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Over medium heat, heat the strawberries and sugar. Add the gelatin and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the strawberries release their moisture and become mushy.
  3. Strain the puree through a mesh sieve to filter out the seeds and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Reserve about 1/3 of the puree for assembly and chill.
  5. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the heavy cream and the remaining cooled puree. Whip the mixture until there are stiff peaks.
  6. Chill for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.

 

Almond Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions: 

  1. In a stand mixer, mix together all frosting ingredients until smooth.
  2. Chill until ready to use or you can use immediately. Transfer to a piping bag whenever ready for assembly.

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Assembly: 

  1. Make sure the crust is properly cooled before beginning assembly. Spread a thin layer of the reserved strawberry puree over the center of the cookie.
  2. Spread an even layer of the strawberry whip over the puree so that it is level and even with the sides of the crust.
  3. Pipe the almond butter frosting on top of the and top garnish with strawberries as desired.
  4. Chill for at least 2 hours before enjoying.

Wine Pairing: You could go with a sweet dessert wine if you wanted, although that’s a bit too much for me. So I went for a Zinfandel. You still get that PB&J feel, but without wanting to brush your teeth right after!

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Stir-fried Scallops with Strawberry Spinach Salad

Merideth and I are big fans of  MasterChef and their “stunning” dishes, including the signature “me on a plate” entries. In honor of the newest season, Merideth and I made our own signature dishes! For me, it’s scallops and a spinach strawberry salad. Probably not MasterChef worthy in its complexity, but tasty, light, and protein rich! Scallops and spinach are also high in iron, which I am usually low in due to my exercise.

There are two types of scallops you’ll commonly find: bay and sea scallops. Usually, I get sea scallops, as they are larger and better for pan-searing, but I didn’t pay close attention and got bay scallops for this dinner instead. No worries though – bay scallops are well suited for stir-frying! In both cases, seasoning with salt, pepper, and some lime juice is all you need.

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 lb scallops (about 25)
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lime juice
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Vinegrette: red wine vinegar, olive oil

Instructions

  1. Lay out scallops on a cutting board or plate and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and let sit for about 5 minutes. Pat dry again.
  2. Heat canola oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and add scallops. If using the larger sea scallops, sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the top and bottom are caramelized. If using smaller bay scallops, stir fry for about 5 minutes or until scallops feel more dense.
  3. Meanwhile, slice strawberries and use to top spinach salad. Dress with oil and vinegar!

Wine Pairing: I usually prefer red wine, but this goes well with a Sauvignon Blanc or, if you’re feeling fancy, some bubbly!

Chickpea Burgers with Pineapple Salsa

Its settled down now, but a few weeks ago it was raining nonstop here in Florida. We badly needed the rain, but it left outdoor dining options pretty limited (and gave me a good excuse to sit inside and enjoy the cloudy night!) Not having a grill anyway, I decided to go for a baked chickpea burger. The pineapple salsa was a last minute addition and made dinner feel tropical on a stormy night!

Ingredients

Chickpea Burger

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg (or equivalent egg substitute)
  • Hamburger buns (I used Hawaiian sweet rolls!)

Pineapple Salsa

  • Pineapple chunks, drained
  • Salt
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Cilantro

Instructions

Chickpea Burger

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Add garlic, onion, chickpeas, and salt and pepper to taste to food processor and drizzle oil into bowl. Blend until it forms a rough paste.
  3. Empty food processor into medium bowl. Add egg and bread crumbs and combine.
  4. Mold chickpea blend into palm-sized patties, about 3 inches across and half an inch thing. If they cannot hold their shape, add a little more olive oil.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Pineapple salsa

  1. Drain pineapple through colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Move pineapple to bowl and toss with red wine vinegar and cilantro to taste.
  3. Serve on top of chickpea patty.

Rosé Strawberry Punch

Mix ingredients in a pitcher and serve!

  • 1 bottle rosé
  • Juice from can of pineapple, drained
  • 1 liter Sprite
  • Frozen whole strawberries (to chill your punch)

Enjoy!