Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing

Happy 2014… Make it a great start!

I’m really not a “New Year’s Resolution” type of gal, nor do I allow the word “diet” to enter my vocabulary-  but I do like to take the month of January to get back on track with my healthy eating habits.  And after all of the culinary and cocktail debauchery from the holidays, I’m actually craving clean food- fresh veggies, fruits, lean proteins, etc.

I’ll be posting some “healthy while still being delicious” recipes this month to get us all back to reality.  This dressing is a great place to start: so packed with flavor, you’ll be surprised how delicious “healthy eating” can be!

This recipe is super fast and easy to make and can turn the simplest salad into a sensational meal!  The dressing is the star and you can use it on any combination of salad fixings you choose.  I paired it here with some butter lettuce, avocado slices, cherry tomatoes and thinly sliced red onion.  Add a side of chicken breast, shrimp or turkey and you have a complete healthy meal. The dressing also makes a great dip for veggies like raw broccoli or cauliflower.

Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing

Servings: about 4

Ingredients:

2 medium sized carrots peeled and roughly chopped or shreaded

2 tablespoons fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons shallots peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons white miso

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4 cup neutral oil (like grapeseed oil or canola oil)

Directions:

In a blender, add all ingredients except the 1/4 cup of neutral oil.  Pulse ingredients until combined and you have a thick puree.  With blender running on a low speed, slowly add the neutral oil until everything is combined.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over salad or in a bowl for dipping.

Note:  All of the ingredient amounts are flexible and to be used as a guideline.  I sometimes add a little more or less ginger, rice vinegar, etc.  Taste as you are making it and feel free to adjust it to your liking.  I personally like it on the chunky side but you can also thin it down a bit with a tablespoon or so of water if you choose.

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Happy Holidays…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2014 filled love and happiness.
Xoxo,

Jessica & Lucy
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Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This past week, I’ve been sharing my favorite Turkey Day recipes with you.  Now let’s talk about the one dish I HATE to make on my favorite cooking day of the year: Mashed Potatoes.  Oh, I love em’ just as much as you do BUT… in the final hour of cooking, when I’m trying to get 15 dishes on the table, at the same time, and all hot… peeling, sweating over a boiling cauldron, getting them through a ricer, seasoning- it’s just not enjoyable for me!

Many chefs insist (and I used to be one of them) that potatoes taste best when made just before sitting down to dinner.  But I’ve since changed my mind after working out this do-ahead version.  I think it rivals any mashed potato side I’ve ever had.  This year, do yourself a favor and get this dish out of the way the night before.  Oh and one more thing… nobody use the word “diet” around this recipe.  It’s a holiday for crying out loud!  Thanks. 😉

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Serves 12

Ingredients:

5 pounds potatoes (I like to go old-school and use russet potatoes for this)

2 teaspoons salt

1 stick unsalted butter

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks.

Place potatoes in a large pot and add COLD water, enough to cover potatoes by about 1-inch.

Stir in 2 teaspoons salt.

On medium heat, bring potatoes to a low boil, uncovered, and cook unitl tender, about 8-12 minutes.

Drain potatoes and pass through a ricer, food mill or china cap back into large pot.  (You can also go “old school” and use a potato masher- won’t be as creamy, but still effective.)

Gently fold in butter, cream cheese, sour cream, milk and salt until all is evenly combined.  Add more salt to your taste as needed.  (Note: you can serve them now and they will be delicious but continue on for make-ahead…)

Spoon potatoes into a lightly greased 13x9x2 baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

When ready to heat, let dish sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Bake at 350, uncovered for 30 minutes or until hot all the way through.

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Happy Anniversary Jessicacollins.com!

This week marks the 3-year anniversary of my blog.  An enormous THANK YOU to all of my readers for Subscribing, Tweeting, Facebook “Like”ing, “Pinning” and all of your incredible feedback and enthusiasm.  I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to share with you my love for all things food.  Below are some of the highlights (in and out of the kitchen) for 2013.

Cheers!

Jessica

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Boo!

Wishing you all a very Happy Halloween!!!


Xoxo,
Jessica & Lucy
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CUT YOUR TEETH!

Ok Gang,

This is NOT like any dinner party I have ever been to.  Combing two of my greatest passions- food AND art- I want to share with you a super cool gathering I went to this week. And I can’t stop thinking about it!

Led by Chef Craig Thorton, WOLVESMOUTH is an underground dining experience which can take months to snag a ticket to.  It’s not a restaurant- as the locations, held in both New York City and Los Angeles, change all the time.  Chef Thorton’s latest sold-out culinary project “Cut Your Teeth” teams him up with artist Matthew Bone at Santa Monica Museum of Art.

20 guests share a communal dining table surrounded by the art installation while feasting on a  9-course tasting menu inspired by the relationship between “predator and prey”.  All of this is devoured while sitting under an incredible chandelier made up of thousands of …coyote teeth.  That’s right… COYOTE TEETH!

First course.  Let’s just get into it!  Venison…

…which we were told we must eat with our fingers… OH YES!!!

Butternut Squash Soup…

How about THIS for your next family dinner centerpiece? …

Halibut…

Rabbit…

One of the many incredible Michael Bone installments…

This is one of the most exciting, artistically “plated” dishes I’ve ever seen.  I could frame this as art!  Oh, and it was delish!!! …Pork Belly…

Shrimp Ceviche…

Quail…

Crepe with Poached Pear…

Olive Oil Lime Parfait…

Is there a greater compliment to give to a chef?  I say NO!…

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The French Laundry

Cross a BIG one off of my Bucket list!  I’ve just returned from a weekend in the Napa Valley where, after years of anticipation, I finally had the joy of dining at The French Laundry.

Led by culinary genius Chef Thomas Keller- the only American chef with two Michelin 3-star restaurants- diners spend months trying to score one of the 16 tables at this modest, stone farmhouse, tucked away in the tiny town of Yountville, California where a 4-hour culinary adventure like no other awaits them.

I’ve posted some of my personal photos to share with you below- or as I like to call it “my food porn”.   Special thanks to Chef Thomas Keller, Michael Minnillo, Lauren Van Ness, and the entire dream team at The French Laundry for making it a night to remember.

-Jessica

An Amuse Bouche of Salmon Tartare Cornets to start the evening…

Caramelized Artichoke & Black Truffle Soup…

Oysters and Pearls…

Hen Egg Custard…

Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm…

Rouelle of Dover Sole…

Alaskan King Crab Boudin…

Carnaroli Risotto Biologico with Shaved White Truffles…

Surf and Turf with Japanese Wagyu Beef…

Reblochon Cheese Course…

And an Assortment of Desserts…

Thank you so much Thomas Keller- a wonderful evening was had by all indeed!

If a trip to Yountville isn’t in your near future, check out Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook:  featuring stunning food photography, his heart-felt personal stories and all of the recipes created for his restaurant.  A GREAT holiday gift idea for any food lover!

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MAPLE CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

We all know my character ‘Avery’ on “The Young and the Restless” loves to let loose with some cupcake baking when she’s stressed.  But let’s be honest, real life cupcake baking can BRING ON stress, not to mention a big ol’ mess in the kitchen.  So I’ve worked out a recipe that’s super easy (and dare I say FUN) to throw together in a short amount of time.  And the result is one heck of a delicious cupcake!  For something a bit different, I’ve added maple syrup to my batter, making it a perfect treat for the fall season.  Think “pancake inside a cupcake” with this one.  Find me on Twitter or Facebook (see tabs to the upper right of this page) and let me know what you think!

Maple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

*Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift flour.  Add brown sugar, baking powder and salt and mix well to combine.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a small pan or microwave and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add eggs and yolk and lightly whisk until just mixed. Add milk, syrup, sour cream, vanilla and melted butter and mix until all is combined.

Slowly add wet mixture to the flour and mix just until all ingredients are combined and batter is not lumpy.

Use a 12-cup muffin pan with liners and fill batter equally in each cup.

Bake for about 20 minutes until cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean when cake is pierced.

Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.  Once frosted, sprinkle toasted walnuts on top.

Frosted cupcakes are good in the refrigerator for a few days and can be frozen in a freezer- safe bag or container for at least a month.  Thaw before eating.

*Note: If you really want to be fun, try substituting chopped bacon pieces on top instead of walnuts.  Also, nuts can be omitted all together for any allergie concerns.

*Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Using a stand mixer with paddle attachement (or a hand-held whisk) cream together the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Turn the mixer to low and add the vanilla until well blended.  Do not overmix.

Frosting can be refrigerated for up to a week.  Bring to room temperature before frosting cupcakes.

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“The Talk” on CBS!!!

I had so much fun appearing on “The Talk” last week.  A huge THANK YOU to the ladies, the entire crew, and amazing food stylist Patricia Reilly who made all of my dishes look so pretty on the show.

To see all of my RECIPES we made on the show click HERE.

To see a CLIP of my appearance on “The Talk”, click HERE.

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