December 17, 2014

Grilled Cheese with Sauteed Mushrooms & Kale Pesto

Grilled cheese sandwiches are great to eat when.....
EVER.   That's right- whenever.  On a weekday or night,
on a weekend, on a rainy day, or a sunny day.
They are  great!

To add a teeny bit of flair to my grilled  cheese-
I added some sauteed mushrooms and some bright green
kale pesto. You know, to make it a little healthier and prettier.
To make kale pesto or any type of pesto for that matter,
all you have to do is give the veggie a rough chop and add it
to a food processor or blender with a splash of water and
a heavy drizzle of some olive oil. You can add other
herbs and seasonings to your liking or depending on what
type of cuisine you are making it for. Some veggies are
a little hardier than others like carrots, cabbage & kale
just to name a few. Because kale is a a little thick and tougher
I recommend blanching it first. Boil some water-
as soon as the water starts to boil- turn your stove off
and add your roughly chopped kale into the hot water.
Stir it around so that all the pieces of kale get their fair
share in the hot tub of boiling hot water.
After about 5-7 minutes- strain the water and add the kale to
the blender or food processor with olive oil and a sprinkle
of salt & pepper for tasting.

Toast your bread right on the stove with a little butter
for the best texture.  As the bread is toasting on a low heat-
Add a slice of cheese and smear your kale pesto and add your
already sauteed mushrooms. Next, you want to add whichever
cheese 'melts' your heart.  'Cheesy'! right!?!
Lastly, add your other piece of bread on top and carefully flip
the whole sandwich over so that the other side
of your grilled cheese gets toasty as well.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

Muffuletta Sandwich

Have you ever had a muffuletta sandwich?
A muffuetta is a round, flattened loaf bread that is
often 8-10 inches round. The sandwich
originated in New Orleans.

Here s is an easy way to make the best muffuletta.

Start with some olives. It doesn't matter what brand or type.
You can call this olive salad or olive salsa or an olive spread.

Take your olives, maybe  3-4 spoonfuls
(depending on how many sandwiches you are making).
I usually do 2 spoonfuls per sandwich.
Dice the olives up, add a tablespoon of vinegar, a tablespoon
of sugar, 2 cloves of minced garlic and some dry oregano.
Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil &add a sprinkle of salt & pepper.

Purchase your favorite ham, salami and provolone cheese
from the deli.  While your olive salsa is marinating together
for at least 15-20 minutes- (the longer the better- overnight in
the refrigerator is best) take this time to toast the bread.
I think it's best when you toast it on a frying or saute pan
on the stove with a little melted butter. This gets the bread
toasty and a little crispy and crusty. Spread the olives on
your toasted bread- both the top and the bottom piece of the bread.
Layer your ham, salami and cheese. This is great served with
some pickles.  Your family or friends will smile when they
take their first bite!  YUM!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

December 12, 2014

Kimchi fried rice in Vietnamese summer rolls

I often enjoy foods that are fusion.
When it's either an ingredient or a technique
known to a certain region, country or area.

These rolls are a fusion of Korea and Vietnam.
Kimchi (fermented spicy napa cabbage) is a staple
side dish of Korean cuisine. Rice that is boiled
and made almost into a porridge like texture,
then laid on bamboo trays/baskets to make sheets
of rice paper is a Vietnamese wrapper.
Have you ever noticed the texture or pattern
on these rice paper sheets prior to being soaked in water?
Yup! that is from being laid on bamboo.

I took some kimchi fried rice and cut Romaine lettuce
(cut chiffonade- ribbon like)  and filled the rice paper.

This is very easy to do and what's super convenient is
that you don't need any other seasonings or sauces
with this roll because the flavor is in the spicy kimchi fried rice.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

November 23, 2014

Cultivate your lettuce.

Of course I like to cultivate food by taking everyday foods
we are familiar with and changing them up BUT
I also like to literally cultivate veggies and herbs.

I like to share and show people during cooking classes
that you can take many of your veggies and herbs
and regrow them.

Let's Cultivate our food! Right?!!

Some of the most common items we can re-grow are:
scallions, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, herbs
and lettuce.  Simply have the bottom end of the lettuce
head in clean water and you will see it re-grow.

You only need about 2 inches of water or so.
The most important thing is to keep your water clean.
The easiest way to do that is to simply
change your water every other day.
If you don't change your water- it will turn green
and slimey and eventually moldy and stinky.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

November 17, 2014

Made some great lemonade with.... no lemons.

When we go to In-Home Cooking classes- people tend to ask us
MANY questions... food related questions are obviously quite
common but many people also inquire about wanting to
hear about a crazy story of some....  crazy house hold we went to...

We have many crazy stories but  we recently had an event where
we made some great lemonade with.... no lemons. That's right.
Lemonade with no lemons. Huh?  What?!?  How do you do that?
What kind of recipe is that?

I wouldn't call this a 'crazy' experience but it was definitely quite...
not the typical Thursday night norm for Let's Cultivate Food.

We have a company that we provide Personal Chef Dinners for.
This company is AWESOME!
They have fitness challenges with their employees every few months
and the winners receive a Personal Chef Dinner.
The "winners dinner" is what we call it.  This company is located in
Philly but has a 2nd location in Bethlehem, PA and the  winning group
this time around was a group in their Bethlehem location.

We arrived at the location (being told there was an oven/stove top)
BUT we quickly found out that this location only had a microwave.

Imagine standing in an office kitchen with bags and bags of food,
our mobile catering plates, utensils, infused pitchers of drinks
 and ALL the ingredients while being told that there is
no oven or even stove top... for 10 people when the first appetizer
required using the oven to melt 4 cheeses on top of a bread loaf.

I was speechless BUT at the same time I knew...  #wegotthis!
2 of the employees made some calls and REALLY turned on their
thinking caps and was able to arrange  using the kitchen
of the Homewood Suites which was only a few minutes away.

We walked into the hotel and Rebecca (of Homewood Suites)
handed us a room key and said the kitchen was this way....

As we followed into the kitchen, I was wondering if this was a dream
I was having because it  was hard to imagine that we carried some of
our food with us to use the kitchen of the hotel but as I mentioned
we were handed a room key as well - it was even more bizarre.
When I asked what the room key was for- I quickly then found out
that they only have an oven in the small kitchen area but there were
stove top burners only in the rooms.
That's when I also quickly realized that this facility was an
extended stay place. (meaning people did their cooking in their rooms
because they were often staying there for an extended period of time
rather than a night or 2.)

I cut, stuffed, baked the bread and dessert and while that was
in the oven... again of a hotel down the street (completely unplanned)
we walked down the halls to use one of the rooms to cook some eggs
(which was the topping of Bibimbap) on a stove top.

Typically eggs are cooked sunny side up for bibimbap so that you can
have the yolk drizzle on top of the veggies but being that I had to cook
the eggs, store them in a container and drive back to the office-
I figured cooking them over-hard was going to be better.
I didn't want to deal with broken yolks all over the place.

All in all the night was a great time.  My sous chef conducted
a cheese taste test and had some fun food trivia as I made due
under the circumstances. I would of wanted to have the food
hot rather than the room temperature that it was- but...
we certainly made lemonade with no lemons.

Below are a few pictures that I didn't even know that were
being taken at the time due to coming to the realization
that I was literally frying eggs on a stove top in a hotel.

The hospitality of the employees of Homewood Suites in Bethlehem
was a 2 thumbs up for sure. They were so hospitable, kind,
understanding and totally went out of their way to help this company
out in a slight jam of having invited us for a Personal Chef Dinner.

stuffing the everything bread with 4 cheeses... the 4 cheeses that the 
participants of the Personal Chef Dinner did a cheese taste test with..

that's me looking for room 111...

trying to slide the key card out to enter the room...

yes, I'm frying eggs on a mini ceramic stove burner... in a hotel Bethlehem...
on a Thursday evening... while using the hotel's huge jug of olive oil...

"cheers"  to the winners of the fitness challenge! 

enjoying the  apple cinnamon infused  green tea with honey...

Bibimbap- the main entree followed by the chilled bowtie pasta salad
with marinated grapes and tomatoes...

making sure the sides of the plates  are clean...

Bibimbap  on a plate rather than a bowl...

with the over-hard fried egg on top...

Lemonade without lemons can be good 
Let's Cultivate Food

Apple cinnamon ginger infused water

Water is a great way to re-hydrate yourself but 
let's face it- it can get boring!

Infuse your water with pretty much any fruit, herb or even veggie.
If you are not sure which one to infuse or try-
an easy way to start out is to use whatever fruit might
be in season. For example, because it's Autumn and apple season,
apples sliced or diced is an easy decision. I added some cinnamon 
sticks and made slices of about 1 inch of ginger 
(with the skin peeled and rinsed before infusing.)

stay hydrated all year long Let's Cultivate Food

November 15, 2014

Caprese STUFFED burger

Have you ever eaten a stuffed burger?

It is....  delicious.
I took some  ground beef and seasoned it
with a little garlic salt, black pepper, dried Italian herbs,
dried basil and an egg. I made 2 thin patties and in between
the patties I laid some.....
diced tomato (about 2 slices worth)
and some basil cut in chiffonade (thin ribbon like) and added
some fresh mozzarella cheese.
I sauteed  the burger on a pan to char the outside of it and then
baked the rest in the oven on 400 degrees to finish it off.
(about 5-7 minutes)

Once the burger was not pink anymore I turned off the oven
and added a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of the stuffed burger.
Although I turned the oven off- the heat was enough to melt the slice
of cheese.  Once the cheese is melted- you can lay your stuffed burger
on the bun or roll of your choice. I added some lettuce sliced up
and 2 thin slices of tomato. You don't need any ketchup or any other
condiments with this burger because by adding the raw egg - it not only
holds  the burger together but it keeps it moist and juicy as well.
Also being that the burger is stuffed with tomato and cheese inside-
it makes it even more juicy and....... delicious!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food

MENUS for Catered Lunch Boxes

Catered lunch boxes are individually 
packaged and personalized.  
Each comes with an entree + a side 
and a drink  (often fruit or herb infused).

(Menus can be customized for special diets & allergies)

Let's face it, your employees rock! 

Treat them to the company perk that keeps them 
fueled up and ready to work! 

When your company is ready to discuss 
your company’s lunch meal plans...

Please click the tab titled "To  SCHEDULE
where you will fill out some basic info
(location, how many employees, etc...)
so we can get a better idea of your 
company's needs and how we can 'satisfy'.

(pictured below are just a few samples)



Individually packaged and personalized,   
Let's Cultivate Food