Oven-Fried Truffle and Parmesan Potato Chips

Alright, so I have another new favorite obsession.  What’s new, right?  My obsessions don’t seem to last very long.  Out with the old, in with the new!  These truffle and parmesan potato chips are incredibly addicting.  And the smell of the truffle oil!  OMG, it’s intoxicating!  Our house was filled with the fragrant aroma of truffles!  These potato chips are hard to resist, so make a large batch!  Nosh on these bad boys by themselves, with a beer, alongside a sandwich or burger, or whatever you fancy.  Me?  Well, I like mine with a cold bottle of beer, but will eat them all sorts of ways.  I’m not picky :)

What’s your favorite way of devouring potato chips?

Oven-Fried Truffle and Parmesan Potato Chips (adapted slightly from The Family Kitchen)

3 medium to large baking potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
3-4 pinches of sea salt
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an 18×13 jelly roll pan, brush on two tablespoons of olive oil until fully coated. Place pan in the oven and heat for 10 minutes.

While the pan is heating in the oven, place the potato slices into a large mixing bowl, and toss with truffle oil and salt. Set aside.

Carefully line the potato slices on the hot baking sheet. Place pan into the hot oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the potato chips with a pair of tongs and bake them for another 5 minutes. The chips will darken a little as they bake, but just don’t let them burn. If the potato chips still aren’t crispy, flip those potato chips over and bake for another few minutes. [Do not walk away from these chips, as they can easily go from almost crispy, to burnt.]

Remove the pan from the oven, and transfer the chips to a payer of paper towels. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, and allow them to cool. The excess oil will be absorbed by the towels. The potato chips will also crisp up slightly as they cool.  Once cooled, store in an air tight container for a few days.

Life Changes and Mexican (aka, Spanish) Rice

It seems like forever since the last time I was in the kitchen or  blogged.  Life has gotten in the way.  It’s been busy and filled with lots of changes, all for the better, of course.

I had been experiencing this quarter-life existential crises over the last six months, and I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was causing all this turmoil within myself.  After some serious soul searching, I realized that I was feeling unchallenged and bored with my current job.  My dream job.  The job that challenged me.  Excited me.  I actually looked forward to going to work.  I’m not kidding.  The job was perfect for me.  I get bored easily, it’s just my personality.  But this job kept me on my toes, and challenged me minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, and day-to-day.  It was a fast-paced environment with very little down time.  I didn’t think I was ever wanted to leave this job.  Ever.  If you asked me five years ago what my five year career goal was going to be, I’d quickly respond with my current job.  Patient care was my thing.

So as you can see, I really struggled with the idea of no longer feeling satisfied by my job.  I felt like I was (and still am) letting down my mentor who I admire, and helped mold me into the clinician that I am today.  I didn’t want to accept the idea of needing to find another job.  I thought this unsettled feeling of my career would pass with time, and so I let time pass.

Well, time didn’t resolve my problem.  As my lucky stars would have it, while at a mutual friend’s wedding, my coworker’s husband mentioned his company was looking to hire.  This intrigued me.  A light bulb went off and I realized that I needed a new career move.  So I applied for two completely different jobs within the pharmacy sector, and I recently accepted the position as a pharmacy IS (information systems) specialist within the company I currently work for.  I start my new position in a month and a half.

The job will be VERY different from what I do now.  I’m going to be a pharmacy computer geek, and I’m so excited by this!  It’s certainly going to challenge me in a whole different way, and I know it’s going to require a lot of my time and attention.  I won’t be involved in direct patient care, which doesn’t bother me anymore.  I’m actually relieved of not being heavily involved with patient care.  Patient care has burnt me out, as well as the nature of the emergency room, and long hospital work hours.

Let’s see, other changes… my brother and sister-in-law will be moving to Zurich, Switzerland, for amazing job opportunities to advance their careers.  They have committed to a two year contract.  So not only did we get the keys to their amazing condo in Manhattan, but we also get a free place to stay when we visit them next summer.  Viva la Europe!

And last but not least, my partner has decided to pursue a second Master’s degree, this time in fine arts.  She current has her Masters in special education, but her passion has always been art.  She’s a talented painter, and would benefit greatly with a MFA.  So, she’s planning to apply for the upcoming 2012 school year.  What does this mean for us?  Well, back for another long distance relationship.  Hopefully, she’ll only be 2.5 hours away.

Too many changes.  I wanted some comfort food today, and Mexican food was what I needed.

What are your comfort foods?

Mexican Rice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups long grain rice
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a large skillet, and brown rice over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute, stirring frequently for about five minutes, or until the onions have softened.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Fluff the rice when the rice is cooked, and then cover with the lid for another five minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Roasted Asparagus and Enoki Salad Drizzled with Truffle Oil

We had the best wood-fire wild mushroom pizza drizzled with truffle oil during our vacation week of gluttony.  It was to die for.  I’ve been craving that pizza since, but because we are on our quest to lose the weight that we gained from our vacation, I wanted to cook something that involved mushrooms and truffle oil minus the carbs.

On our way back home from vacation, we stopped by the Korean market and got some beautiful oyster and enoki mushrooms.  I was so excited to make my asparagus and oyster mushroom salad (the enoki mushrooms were reserved for miso soup tomorrow), but to my dismay, the oyster mushrooms started to grow fungus on itself and not in a good way :(  I was so distraught.  [Yes.  Distraught.  Haven't you learned that I'm a bit of a drama queen, yet? :)]  I really, really wanted that warm salad tonight with the truffle oil.  Actually, I just really wanted the truffle oil.  So fortunately I still had the enoki mushrooms and thought I’d give it a try instead, and sure enough it tasted just as good!

Roasted Asparagus and Enoki Salad Drizzled with Truffle Oil

1 pound asparagus, ends trimmedd and cut to 3-inch lengths
2 packages enoki mushrooms, cut 2 inches off the base and pull/shred apart
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small block of parmesan cheese
Truffle oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Toss asparagus and enoki mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a cookie sheet and roast for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown and the asparagus spears are tender. Remove from oven.

Toss the roasted asparagus and mushrooms with the lemon juice and arrange onto a platter. Shave the parmesan over the salad, and finish with a drizzle of truffle oil.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 side salads.

Roasted Asparagus Bundles Wrapped with Prosciutto

Do you ever stress out about what you’ll bring to a potluck-style dinner?  I know I shouldn’t, but I am one big stress ball.  I never know what to bring.  I know I want to bring something that I hope everyone will like.  But also because I want to wow them with flavors when the food hits their taste buds.  My partner thinks I’m silly for stressing out.  She always suggests that I bring something that I’ve made before at home that tasted good.  And I know I should do that also, but I’m too stubborn to listen.  So instead, I’ll spend hours upon hours looking for the right recipe.  And when I do happen to find the right recipe, I stress over whether or not the final product will be good enough for the potluck.  I always imagine the worst case scenario.  What if I goof up during the cooking process?  What if I didn’t get enough of this or that?  What if it comes out dry or ugly or both?  What if it’s too salty?  So I’ll remind myself to do a test run before the actual day.  But do I ever?  Nope.  I wait to the last minute and run out of time to do a test run so I get even more anxious.  Yes.  I know.  I’m crazy.

After perusing numerous recipes, I decided upon stuffed bell peppers.  Well, I didn’t actually end up making the stuffed bell peppers.  I talked myself out of it.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  I was in no mood to make a trek out to the grocery store.  I wanted to be lazy.  Besides, I was already feeling very accomplished after my three hour adventure in the kitchen baking mini german chocolate cakes.  So what did I end up doing?  My classic, go-to easy side dish… roasted asparagus bundles wrapped with prosciutto.  I still had to make a trip to the grocery store, but I was only in the kitchen for 20 minutes.  The irony… it was stress-free :)  I guess I should listen to my partner more often.

Roasted Asparagus Bundles Wrapped with Prosciutto

1 to 1.5 pound of asparagus (about 24 stalks), trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 thin slices of prosciutto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Snap the dry, woody stems off each asparagus. Wrap a slice of prosciutto for every three asparagus stalks. I find it easiest to wrap the asparagus when the prosciutto is cold (i.e., removing the prosciutto from the refrigerator right as you are going to assemble the asparagus bundles). Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt (just a little bit since the prosciutto is salty) and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until the asparagus is tender, about 10-15 minutes. The latter really depends on your own oven. Let it cool until it reaches room temperature, and serve with lemon wedges.

A couple of different spins on this recipe: 1) you could wrap the asparagus bundles with prosciutto after the asparagus has roasted; 2) shaved parmesan or grated parmesan onto the wrapped asparagus.

Serves: 8

Healthy Refried Black Beans (and it’s vegan, too!)

If you didn’t read my last post on my chile verde recipe, I’m helping my partner wean off of her obsession with restaurant-made Mexican food and Taco Bell.  It is her only vice in life.  My partner loves Mexican food.  And when I say love, I mean it’s an obsession with Mexican food.  My partner is a glutton for anything nachos, tacos, burritos, beans and rice.  She especially loves bean burritos.  Really, anything Mexican food.

Beore I go on, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that she’s unhealthy and eats loads of calories and fat saturated foods.  She, in fact, is very healthy.  But she has been on a Taco Bell and Mexican food kick for a while now, which shocks me because she used to hate the idea of me consuming fast food.  It’s funny because I was the unhealthy one in our relationship for years.  In fact, I was on a fast food kick daily before we met up until a few months after we started dating.  After a week or so of dating, she was disgusted by the amount of fast food that I consumed, so she made me a “detox salad.”   I used to cringe when I heard the words “detox salad.”  Who needed a detox salad?  Actually, who needed more vegetables in their life?  I mean, doesn’t french fries, and lettuce and tomatoes from a taco or burger count?  Horrifying, right?  That’s how I used to think.  Well, I made a deal with her that I’d wean myself from fast food, but only if I could eat it once every few months.  I did stop, but when I did crave a fast food burger or french fries I made sure to satisfy it.  But I realized how gross I felt afterwards.  And being reminded of that feeling a few more times has given me the will power to stop eating fast food.  The end.

So it’s funny how the tables have turned.  But it makes me sad at the fact that she’s become addicted to Taco Bell.  She can eat all the Mexican food she wants, but only if it’s “real” and “identifiable” foods.  The other thing is that we are trying to lose the “happy 15″ pound weight gain (or in our case, happy 20) that we put on our first year of dating.  She’s sort of defeating the purpose of eating healthy and exercising up to four times weekly, if she eats fat laden foods.  So the deal is if she stops eating Taco Bell, I’d make her more healthy Mexican foods.

In my attempt to make healthy, almost authentic homemade Mexican food, I found a refried black bean recipe that doesn’t use lard.  Refried black beans is traditionally made with lard.  But this recipe uses extra virgin olive oil and a nonstick pan to for that “refried” look and taste.

Healthy Refried Black Beans (adapted from New York Times‘ Fitness and Nutrition Section)

2 (15 ounce) cans simmered black beans
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced

Heat medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Drain off about 1 cup of liquid from the beans to reserve, and pour beans and remaining liquid into pot.  Mash half the beans with a potato mahser.  Don’t puree them (you want texture).

Heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy nonstick frying pan, and add the ground cumin and chili.  Cook, stirring over medium heat, for about a minute, until the spices begin to sizzle and cook.  Add the minced yellow onion to the pan and cook until tender and fragrant.  Add the black beans and fry, stirring and mashing often, until they thicken and begin to get crusty on the bottom and aromatic.  Stir up the crust each time it forms, and mix into the beans.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  The beans should be thick but not dry.  Taste the refried beans, and adjust the salt if necessary.  Add liquid you reserved from the beans if they seem too dry.

Spoon refried black beans over nachos, into a burrito and/or taco, or as a side dish.  This recipe is the perfect prescription for your favorite Mexican food dish.

The refried beans will keep for up to three to four days in the refrigerator.  To reheat, cover with foil and reheat in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings (1/2 cup each).

Calories per serving: 135 calories

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