• I Cooked Ramen For The First Time Ever

    SLURRRRRRP.

    Long story short, I cooked ramen from scratch for this first time ever this week.  On top of that I also prepared this meal for a group of strangers I welcomed into my house.  Basically, the pressure was on.

    I like to come up with recipes from scratch and as a trained chef I’m pretty good at opening the fridge up and creating something tasty my friends and fam will enjoy. However….in the case of ramen I made the wise decision to seek out help in the form of a recipe to get me through this challenge.  It’s a 15 hour process to make this delicious meal properly from scratch – so if you’re going to make it, give yourself ample time (definitely the day before your event).

    I chose to follow this recipe from Chow Hound for Slow Cooker Pork Ramen.  Safe to say, it took so very long to make, but it was absolutely a hit.

    ramen

    P.S. The lipstick I’m wearing is Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge in Mat M102.


    Slow Cooker Pork Ramen

    3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces

    Kosher salt

    2 tablespoons canola oil (if including the optional browning step)

    1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

    6 garlic cloves, chopped

    1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

    8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

    1 leek, halved lengthwise and coarsely chopped (white and green parts)

    1/4 pound cremini or button mushrooms, brushed clean and coarsely chopped

    Low-sodium soy sauce for seasoning

    Sesame and/or chile oil for seasoning

    1 1/2 pounds fresh ramen noodles

    8 large eggs (optional)

    About 4 green onions, finely chopped (white and pale green parts)

    1. Season the pork with salt.
    2. This step and the next are optional: Put a flameproof slow cooker insert on the stovetop over medium-high heat, then add the oil and warm until hot. (Or, use a frying pan for this step). Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the pork pieces and sear them on the first side without moving them until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces and sear on the second side until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
    3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the insert and return the insert to medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion and sear, without stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and 1 cup of the broth and deglaze the insert, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the insert bottom, then let simmer for 1 minute.
    4. If you have included the browning step, transfer the insert to the slow cooker, add the leek, mushrooms, and the remaining 7 cups of broth, and stir to combine. If you are starting here, combine the pork, yellow onion, garlic, ginger, leek, mushrooms, and broth in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 8 hours. The pork should be very tender and the broth should be fragrant.
    5. To assemble: Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Using 2 forks, break the pork into bite-size chunks, removing and discarding any large pieces of fat. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from the surface of the broth. Return the pork and broth to the slow cooker and season to taste with soy sauce and sesame and/or chile oil. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for about 30 minutes to warm through. Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions. If you want to top each bowl of ramen with an egg, put the eggs into boiling water and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water, let cool until they can be handled, and peel them.
    6. To serve: Divide the noodles evenly among individual bowls. Ladle the broth and pork over the noodles, dividing them evenly, then sprinkle with the green onions. If desired, top each bowl with a halved soft-boiled egg and serve right away.
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  • DIY Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Know what I love?  A delicious, ice cream sandwich.  Let’s be honest – if you like cookies, and/or ice cream you love an ice cream sandwich also.  I was first introduced as a college student at UCLA (there’s a famous shop in Westwood) and ever since then I’ve been hooked.

    IceCreamSandwichGrazeNonBranded

    They’re easy to make, even easier to customize, and a total crowd pleaser.  I throw a lot of dinner parties and am constantly trying to up my dessert ante and I realized that I had never served my guests an over-the-top ice cream sammie before!  What a treat!  Everybody can choose their own cookie, ice cream, and…toppings.  Yes, you read that correctly!  Once the ice cream is smushed in between your cookies, who not roll it in any variety of delicious snacks to create a completely one-of-a-kind party treat?!

    I’m a Graze subscriber and get their snacks delivered to our office and home every week and because they vary from sweet and savory to salty, I figured the snacks would serve the “toppings” purpose beautifully at my ice cream sandwich dessert party.  If you’ve never given Graze a try before…um, do it.  Your first box is free, and all you have to do is tell them the snacks you love to eat and then BAM – your box of treats will show up ready to be devoured.

    GrazeSnacks

     

    But back to the ice cream sandwiches….here’s all you need and have to do:

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]
      1. Variety of ice cream flavors
      2. Variety of cookies
      3. Variety of Graze snacks (I used the following combos: pineapple/coconut/mango, redskin peanuts/vanilla fudge/mini chocolate cookies, and strawberry/oat & barley granola/yogurt pieces) – Click here to try 4-snack smaller box!
    [/ingredients]

    grazepineapple

    [directions title=”Directions”]
    1. First, let your ice cream soften a bit at room temperature.  Take a warm ice cream spoon (run it under warm water, and clean it off in between flavors) and create the largest ball of ice cream you can in the container by scooping over and over again.  Imagine your rolling snow for the base of a snow man.
    2. Take your first cookie in one hand and your ice cream in the other and gently smush the ice cream onto the flat side of the cookie.  Finish the cookie by smashing the ice cream down with your second (or top) cookie.  Voila – ice cream sandwich almost complete.
    3. Next, you’re going to want to sprinkle your snacks on a plate covered in parchment paper and gently roll your ice cream sandwich through them.  Use your hand to pack a bit more onto the ice cream if you wish and then place the sandwich in the freezer until you’re ready to serve.
    4. Repeat, freeze, enjoy!
    [/directions]
  • Wilted Dandelion Greens

    Following up from yesterday’s Baked Cornflake Chicken in the new Dinner Series on TheLoDown, we have the recipe for Wilted Dandelion Greens.  I love to mix a nice green with any kind of chicken, and when the chicken is baked or fried, a wilted green goes really nicely.  I had never cooked dandelion greens before this dinner to be honest with you, but they were fresh at the farmer’s market and I’m all about experimentin’, so I picked up two bright and full packages.  A tip: always get more greens than you think you’ll need.  They shrink down so much when they’re cooked and everyone ends up disappointed!

    These greens turned out to be a hit!  The dandelion green is bitter by nature, so it needs the vinegar to balance the flavor out so don’t be shy when deglazing the pan with it.  You’ll end up with a bright, healthy, and delicious green you’ll make over and over again.  Another tip: cut off most of the stem and use leaves primarily in this dish.

    We also have the recipe for the other side I made for dinner: the most delicious Mashed Sweet Potatoes you’ve ever had.  Make these all together for a delicious, southern-inspired dinner.  Enjoy!

    MashedSweetPotatoes

    Mashed Sweet Potatoes


    Here’s the recipe for your new favorite greens dish!  Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

    • 2 large bunches of dandelion greens
    • Half a yellow onion, diced
    • Ghee or butter (to cook the onion in)
    • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste

    [/ingredients]

    [directions title=”Directions”]

    1. In a large pan over medium heat, melt your ghee.  Add your onions and begin to cook.  After about 5 minutes, add your dijon mustard and stir into the onions.  Once the onions and mustard come together nicely, add the red wine vinegar to quickly reduce.
    2. Add the bunches of dandelion greens (wash them of course, and cut off most of the stems).  Fold over themselves into the onions and vinegar until the begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper.
    3. Let cook together for at least 5 minutes.  Taste. If the greens are still too bitter, add a bit more mustard and vinegar and gently boil for a bit longer.
    4. Once they’re delicious, immediately serve.

    [/directions]

     

  • Baked Cornflake Chicken

    Hi guys!  Happy Monday!  With our focus switching more to food in 2016 at TheLoDown we’re starting a new weekly series called: “Dinner Series” (super fancy, I know).  I make dinner all the time for my boyfriend and my friends, so why not share what I’m making with y’all?  We’ll be posting the recipes over the course of a few days at the top of the week, or sometimes all on the same day – just depending on how you like it.  If you have any thoughts on the post schedule (like you prefer all the recipes to go live on the same day) let us know in the comments!

    This week we have an ‘effing classic: Baked Cornflake Chicken like Momma used to make, paired with Wilted Dandelion Greens, and the most delicious Mashed Sweet Potatoes you’ve ever had.  I wanted to create a southern-inspired dinner and boy, did I hit the nail on the head.  It was fantastic.  I’ll be posting the Wilted Dandelion Greens and Mashed Sweet Potato recipes tomorrow so stay tuned!


     

     Wilted Dandelion Greens


    MashedSweetPotatoes

    Mashed Sweet Potatoes


    So without wasting anymore time, let’s get into this easy Baked Cornflake Chicken Recipe.  I used legs and bone-in thighs only (I find the darker meat is better when baked) and this should serve at least 4 people.

    [ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

    • 10 chicken legs (drumsticks)
    • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 tablespoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon black pepper
    • 1 1/4 cup mayo
    • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 2 teaspoons ground sage
    • Lots of cornflakes (buy a whole box at the grocery store)

    [/ingredients]

    [directions title=”Directions”]

    1. Preheat your oven to 425 F and cover two baking sheets with pieces of parchment paper (this makes the clean-up much easier).
    2. Rinse your legs and thighs under water and pat dry.
    3. Set up your cornflake chicken station like an assembly line: flour, mayo, cornflakes, baking sheets. Here’s how: In a large dish of some kind, combine flour with salt and pepper.  In another large bowl next to it, combine your mayo with dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika, and ground sage.  Then you’ll want to have your cornflakes crunched up and ready to go in a large gallon size zip-locked bag.  Next to that should be your baking sheets ready to accept your delicious pieces of cornflake coated chicken.  If you’re by yourself this will be a messy process.  You could use a spoon of some kind to help add the mayo mixture to the chicken but I find that using your hand is easier.  Get a friend or your kid to help with the cornflake part if that makes it easier.
    4. Once your station is set up, prepare 3-4 legs or thighs in the flour mixture by rolling it through and making sure each pieces is totally covered.  The layer of flour doesn’t need to be too thick. I like to have a couple of pieces ready to go at once so when I’m putting the layer of mayo on the others just wait for their turn in the flour.
    5. Next, pick up your floured thigh and gently massage some of the mayo mix all over your chicken. Toss it into your cornflake bag until it’s completely covered and then lay to rest on your baking sheet.  Repeat until all your chicken is ready for the oven.
    6. Put the sheets in the oven and bake the chicken at 425 for about 15 minutes.  Then lower the temp to 375 and cook for another 25-30 minutes, until the juices run clear.
    7. Enjoy with your Wilted Dandelion Greens, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  Yum!

    [/directions]

     

  • Fancy Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam

    fancygrilledcheese

    I don’t know a single person who doesn’t enjoy a fabulous grilled cheese – whether it’s made with classic American cheese or something a bit more cheese chic.  I knew them for years as a kid as “Girl Cheese”  and my parents failed to correct me.  Nonetheless, I’m a super fan of anything melted onto bread (duh) so I decided to spruce up an old favorite to turn a plain old grilled cheese into a fancy grilled cheese with fig jams (I LOVE FIGS).  This baby is also packed with with dates, arugula and Prince La Fontaine Triple Cream cheese.  It’s sure to impress and delight even the pickiest eater.

    I eat far less “Girl Cheeses” now as I’m more concerned about my waistline than I was back in the day, and because my palette has become more developed I wanted to re-create an old classic in a new way that would be worth the calories.  This tasty sandwich is definitely a winner – let’s get to it.

    1. 2 slices of bread (I used Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread – it’s flour-free)

    2. 1.5 tablespoons fig jam

    3. 2 Dried dates, pitted and then quartered (you’ll want to flatten out the pieces into the sandwich)

    4. 1.5 tablespoons Prince La Fontaine Triple Cream cheese (or another triple cream)

    5. 1/4 cup washed and dried arugula

    6. 1/5 tablespoon Earth Balance (or softened butter) to coat the bread

    7. Sprinkle of sea salt

    1. Prepare to build your sandwich by having all ingredients at the ready, and heat a small frying pan to medium heat.

    2. On one piece of bread, layer the following: half of the cheese, half of the fig jam, and all of the dates.  Flatten the dried dates into the cheese, jam to keep your sandwich from becoming too tall to heat through properly.

    3. On the other slice, layer the following: the remainder of the cheese, the remainder of the fig jam, a sprinkle of sea salt, and the arugula.  Close the two pieces of bread together gently so you don’t lose any ingredients.

    4. Gently butter the exterior sides of the bread with softened Earth Balance or butter and place the sandwich into the heated pan.

    5.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, browning but not burning the bread.  If the bread begins to burn, turn down the heat of the pan.  Allow the sandwich to cook long enough for the cheese to properly melt.

    6.  Cut in half and enjoy the sweet and creamy goodness!  Yum!

    Serving Size: 1 Sandwich
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