Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shrimp Avocado Ceviche

What's a perfect, make in advance, light meal for warm weather?

Ceviche!  I think ceviche is one of those dishes you eat out at restaurants and think to yourself, this is so good but I can't make it like this at home.   Well I'm here to tell you to ignore that voice in your head, ceviche is easy to make and tastes even better when it's made in advance.

Ceviche originates from South and Central America, where fresh seafood is often abundant.  Traditionally ceviche is raw seafood that is marinaded in a citric acid (such as lime juice) and this acid then "cooks" the seafood.  This is why the dish is prepared in advance so that the acidic juices have time to react with the seafood and "cook" it.  This version here is going against the grain a bit, in that I am not using the acid to actually cook the shrimp.  I did this for two reasons.  Mainly because eating raw seafood that has been "cooked" by it's marinade can seem a bit scary for food safety reasons and I wanted this dish to be more approachable for the everyday cook.  And secondly, because by using cooked seafood in this dish we can forgo the longer required marinating time of the traditional process, meaning you can whip this meal up and be ready to eat in 30 minutes.

You can use a variety of different seafood for your ceviche, other traditional recipes include fish such as Bass, Halibut, Snapper or even squid. I like to make the ceviche first and then prepare other side dishes so that the flavors have time to really incorporate.  This dish makes awesome leftovers, so I encourage you to make extra to enjoy the following day.

This ceviche is not only delicious, it is also nutritious! Shrimp is a great, high quality protein that is also low in calories and fat (although I have nothing against fat).  About 4 ounces of shrimp provides close to 24 grams of protein.  It is also a good source of Selenium, vitamin B12, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.  Shrimp is considered to be low in mercury levels so it is safe to consume on a regular basis. In addition to the shrimp, this recipe includes heart healthy fats from avocado and lycopene, vitamin C and beta-carotene from the colorful bell peppers.

  • 3 bell peppers, diced (any colors, I used red/orange/yellow)
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 lb cooked shrimp, tail off
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper (to taste)
  • jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • red onion, diced (optional)
Dice the first 4 ingredients and set aside in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl add the lemon juice, lime juice, olive oil and salt, whisk until combined.  Pour this mixture over the diced shrimp and vegetables, lightly toss until the marinade has coated the shrimp mixture.  At this point you can add in the cilantro and any of the other optional ingredients that you desire.  Toss one last time and season with pepper to taste.  Place in the refrigerator to chill or serve immediately. 

Serve the ceviche with tortilla chips, warm corn tortillas or cooked brown rice.  I chose to serve mine with homemade tortilla chips coated in lime juice and sprinkled with salt.

Cheers to trying something new and to good health!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kombucha Sangria

Kombucha Sangria

You know those moments when you say to yourself, "why didn't I think of this sooner?!?"  That is exactly what I thought to myself when I came up with this Kombucha Sangria recipe to bring to a party this past weekend.

Spring is in the air, flowers are starting to bloom and people are unpacking their warm weather wardrobes.  This also means that bbqs and outdoor parties are going to be in full swing!  I try to be a good guest and bring something with, either a small gift for the host or something for all of the guests to enjoy.  I wanted to bring a fun, light drink to share and so this Kombucha Sangria was born.

Kombucha is a favorite of mine not only for its wonderfully unique flavor and effervescence but also for its healing benefits.  Kombucha is said to aid in digestion, boost immune function and help cleanse the body.  For those of you who are not familiar with this special drink, in its most basic sense it is a fermented tea beverage.  The ingredients include tea, sugar and a SCOBY.  The kombucha SCOBY is made up of bacteria and yeast, it is also called a "mushroom" or the "mother." The yeast and bacteria metabolize the sugar and in turn create lactic acid, B vitamins, alcohol, active enzymes and probiotics.  It is considered low-glycemic since most of the sugar is consumed during the fermentation process. It's the goodness that the fermentation process brings out, that makes it so great for our gut.  Kombucha is loaded with probiotics (good bacteria) that help improve digestion.  I brew my own kombucha at home but a store bought brand would work just as well for this recipe.

Some might wonder, why mix a healing beverage with alcohol?  Because I can that's why : ) I consider myself to be a Flexitarian.  Meaning I don't follow one strict diet, instead I focus on eating a diet mainly of nutrient dense, whole foods.  I also believe in the 80/20 lifestyle, I eat healthy nourishing foods most of the time and allow myself to indulge in less nourishing foods on occasion.  Life is a balance people!  We shouldn't deprive ourselves of things we genuinely enjoy, as long as they are consumed in MODERATION.  The key point here being moderation.

Kombucha sangria is a perfect example of this blend of healthy indulgence and it is a wonderful healthy cocktail to share with friends!  It is also a great way to use some of the amazing stone fruit that is now in season.

Kombucha Sangria

Kombucha Sangria

Kombucha Sangria

- 1 bottle rosé wine
- 4 cups of kombucha (original or flavored)
- 2 nectarines
- 1 orange
- 1 apple
- 2 lemons
- champagne (optional)

Leaving the skin/peel on, dice up all of the fruit.  In a large pitcher combine the fruit, wine, kombucha and stir. Refrigerate and chill until serving. For additional fizz and sparkle, pour a champagne topper on the mix just before serving. 

To make this a non-alcoholic beverage, omit the wine and simply swap in another 4 cups of kombucha and 1 cup of sparkling water.

 Cheers to good health!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Vegan Strawberries n Cream Cake

It's been a VERY long time since my last blog post (we're talking years people, years!) and I've been contemplating and over analyzing the perfect comeback post for ages, only further postponing any posts.  Last night I decided what better a way to break my blog silence then with a special birthday treat! No long drawn out explanation of what I have been up to or why I haven't posted in forever, just straight to the goodies.  I whipped these up yesterday and figured they were so good, I just had to share.  Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to you!

Raw Vegan Strawberries n Cream Cake

(Raw, Vegan, Gluten-free)


For the crust
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 4 pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp water  
For the filling
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup nut milk (I used unsweetened almond milk but any non-dairy milk will work)
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla
  • 1.5 tbsp raw maca powder
For the topping
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • shredded coconut for sprinkling (optional)
  • raw cacao powder for sprinkling (optional)


Place all of the crust ingredients into a blender or food processor, pulse until mixture begins to clump.  Spoon equal amounts of this mixture into each of your 4 jars or ramekins, use the back of the spoon to press the mixture into the bottom of the container.

Next place all of the filling ingredients into a blender or food processor, blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.  Spoon equal amounts of this mixture into each of your jars, layering it on top of the crust.

Top the cream layer with chopped strawberries.  If you desire, sprinkle on additional shredded coconut flakes or dust on cacao powder.

Once prepared you can enjoy these treats immediately or refrigerate and enjoy later.

Makes 4 individual servings

Click HERE to download the recipe.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Return of the Mack

Yep, that song is awesome.  Don't deny it!

I know you were probably thinking that at the ripe age of 30 I had decided to retire from my amazing year long blogging career, but have no fear my readers I am back!  There has been a TON of stuff that has gone on in the past 4 months, but I won't bore you will all of the details so here is a quick recap of what's been consuming what would have been my blogging time:

The day following my last post, I got engaged while on our trip to Seattle!!  After an amazing day of sight seeing, kayaking and a dinner on the water, Wren proposed on top of the Space Needle. 
 I have gotten over the initial overwhelming feeling about planning a wedding and we are very excited now that we have a date and venue picked out.

We have seen a ton of music, including one of my new favs Geographer (once at Treasure Island Music Festival and once at the Rickshaw Stop), Kanye/JayZ, Gramatik, Oh land, and a ton of great musicians at the Bridge School Benefit Concert.

We made a trip back to Chicago and Indiana to see family and celebrate our engagement. 
 We also got to meet Wren's new baby nephew, the adorable Liam.

We packed up a feast and got all decked out in white for Le Diner en Blanc San Francisco.  It was a seriously amazing event and I can not wait for the next one!

We did the Anchor Steam Brewery tour which I highly recommend if you are in SF, big bonus because the tour is free and you get to sample all of their amazing beers!

We had to say goodbye to one of our favorite four legged friends, Buddy. We miss you very much Budders!

We brought one of our most favorite Chicago traditions to SF and hosted the 4th annual Gingerbread House Making Party.  It was a great success and we realize there are some stiff competitors out here (look out Annie and Austin we are coming after you next year)!

I also said goodbye to Gary, it's not that he wasn't holding up his end of the deal I was just a bad parent and should be reported to DCFS.  But like a good mother I have decided to replace him with a new starter Peter (named after the author of his recipe Peter Reinhart), this is what good parents do right?

I have definitely been spending some time in the kitchen cooking up healthy eats and I have also taken on a new pizza project which you will likely be hearing a lot about in the future.

I also had the opportunity to meet with someone from Urban Sprouts and I will be starting an internship with them working in a few of the school gardens and possibly the Log Cabin Ranch which is part of the Juvenile Justice Program.  I am very very excited about working with this group, they are doing some great work with kids and nutrition!

I have been brainstorming crafy ideas for the wedding and sent these fun bottles off to my favorite ladies asking them to be my brides maids.  Although they were a lot of work, it was totally worth it for them to get these crazy packages in the mail.  It is actually quite amazing what you can send in the mail so break out your stamps and get creative!

It has been an amazing year for Enjoyable Me and I can't believe it's almost over!!  I have very high expectations for 2012 (some of which involves unicorns and the land of blueberries) and I am looking forward to sharing it all with you right here.  So stay tuned and I wish everyone happy holidays and wonderful new year!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sour Flour

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy around here; I have a few upcoming posts that I am very excited to share with you all.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I volunteered with La Cocina for their 3rd annual SF Street Food Festival.  The event was crazy, this was my first year experiencing it since we moved here and I had no idea just how big it was going to be.  There was so much amazing food and the variety was even a bit overwhelming, I'm almost a little glad that I spent a majority of the day volunteering and not stuffing myself into misery.  I also got to briefly celebrate the birthdays of two very lovely ladies, happy birthday Romy and Shiao!

Last week I had the opportunity (thank you Groupon for the sweet deal) to take a bread starter workshop with Sour Flour.  Sour Flour was started in 2008 by Danny Gabriner; his goal is to create the highest quality bread and at the same time help educate the community about the art of bread making.  Community is a big part of what Sour Flour is all about and they spread the love by giving out free bagels every Monday!!  You can learn more about Bagel Monday here.  I really enjoyed the starter workshop; I have no experience with using dough starters but had been wanting to learn about them for a while.  This introductory class teaches you about what a starter is, how to create one and how to care for it.  That being said I'd like to introduce you all to...
Gary is the handsome starter I made during the workshop and brought home with me, he comes from a long line of well known starters; his mother is Danny's Costa Rican starter Dulce.  You might wonder why the sad face Gary?  I promise I have been taking good care of my little starter guy, feeding him regularly and playing with him occasionally but I think the frown is due to his lackluster home...

Sorry Gary, rent in SF is expensive! Once you start putting out daily bread I promise to upgrade you.

In the class we also made a quick flatbread using the starter, it was slightly chewy and had a nice nuttiness to it.  There are few things more delicious than fresh baked bread, especially in the shape of a heart.

Between making the flatbread and my pizza loving boyfriend, I was inspired to begin my first starter adventure.  Having a dough starter on hand in your kitchen makes it much easier for impromptu pizza making; all you need is flour and water to get started.

Pizza dough recipe:
-dough starter
-2 cups of flour (I used 1 cup zero zero flour and 1 cup white whole wheat)
-3/4 cup warm water
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tbsp olive oil

Using your dry ingredients, create a mound on your counter.  Next create a large well in the mound for the wet ingredients. Tear your starter into small pieces (sorry Gary) and add this to the well.
Add in your wet ingredients
Mix until you have a loose ball of dough
One of the most important things I learned in this workshop was to be patient and not overwork your dough otherwise it will be too sticky.  If you know me then you know I seriously lack patience, letting my dough rest is very difficult.  If you have the same problem, I recommend just walking away from it for about 10-15 minutes.  Using various techniques we learned in class such as flipping the dough and folding the edges over, work your dough until it is smooth.
Once I got it smooth, I let it take another longer rest (I would never hire dough as an employee; it requires way too many breaks).  After the lounging is over the fun begins, stretching out the dough.
And then the topping: I used a red sauce, fresh spinach, sliced tomato, quattro formagio and (because I love a meat-obsessed man) a little bit of salami.
I baked the pizza on our pizza stone at 450 degrees and it only took about 13 minutes for it to be nice and golden.
13 minutes in the oven and only 5 minutes to devour : )

Sour Flour offers other classes including a bagel making workshop, so if you are local I suggest you check them out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Radio Africa: For the Love of Food

For me, there are few things more satisfying than a weekend filled with friends, relaxation and of course good food! Two weekends ago the sun finally decided to show its shy face and grace us with her presence for a majority of the weekend; "summers" here in San Francisco are extremely different than the ones that I have grown use to in Chicago.  But I'll take these mild summers any day over five long months of cold and snow. 

The weekend was spent celebrating various birthdays with some of our new friends and it rounded out with a wonderfully delicious afternoon spent with the charming and talented Eskender Aseged of Radio Africa & Kitchen.  I was fortunate enough to snag a spot in his cooking class at Mission Farms where a group of about 15 of us got to learn how to create some of his favorite kitchen staples and learn tips on how to be prepared for hosting dinners. Eskender got his start by hosting small dinners at his house for friends and family.  Soon word began to spread and his small dinners became a nomadic restaurant, he will be opening his first restaurant in the Fall. Eskender is one of those people that the moment you meet him, you are instantly drawn into his large welcoming presence.  He reminds me of what it would be like if Mr. Clean and the Pillsbury dough-boy had an Ethiopian child, with his bald head, charming grin and an aura that just makes you want to squeeze him.  Or maybe and very likely I'm just weird.    The combination of his knowledge and love for food make him a wonderful chef and teacher.

I really enjoyed this class because Eskender cooks from his smallish home kitchen and he really showed us that it is possible to cook for large groups no matter what your setup is.  He gave us lots of tips on how to be organized, keep things cleanly, and what to prepare in advance.  Eskender believes in using the freshest local ingredients and using spices and herbs to really take flavors to the next level.  We learned how to make a Berbere spice mixture (recipe below) and a fresh gremolata that went into a lot of the dishes that we made that afternoon.  I think in all 12 dishes were served; they were all fantastic so I'll let the photos do the talking.

Squash blossoms stuffed with artichoke
Marinated and sauteed shrimp
 Arugula and heirloom tomato salad
 Grilled leg of lamb
Vegetable Alecha (this dish is as delicious as it is colorful)
Goat cheese baked in Fig leaves (from his yard) with nuts and fresh herbs
Seared tuna on a bed of corn tomato salsa and purslane (a new to me succulent that is highly nutritious and delicious)
Other dishes included a mushroom Wot crostini, edamame hummus, vegetable terrine, long beans, and grilled fish!

All of the food was fresh and just perfectly spiced and cooked; I could have sat there all day and just grazed the evening away.  Eskender's yard and garden make the perfect setting for afternoon lunching, we had it pretty good sitting in the sun drinking wine and eating our hearts out.
This was my plate : )
And yes I ate it all!

At the last minute somewhat asked about dessert so Eskender ran off while we all munched away; he returned with fresh fruit and whipped cream and spiced chocolate for dipping.  What a perfect way to end this lovely lunch.

Eskender's Quick Berbere Ethiopian spice mixture
-1 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp cayenne
-1 tsp cardamom
-1 tsp ground ginger
-1 tsp ground garlic
-1 tbs paprika
-1 tsp dried basil
-1 tsp ground black pepper
Directions: Toast all of the ingredients in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Put them in a grinder and pulse for a minute or so, keep in an airtight container.  The spice mix can be used on a variety of meat and vegetable dishes.  

Eskender hosts various pop up dinners and classes as well as catering and private events, if you haven't had the opportunity to eat his food I highly recommend you check him out.