Aioli Two Ways: Sun-Dried Tomato and Chipotle Lime

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Do boring sandwiches have you feeling down? Well, I’ve got the perfect solution for you! Your sandwiches are guaranteed to be transformed from drab to fab by spicing up your mayo – literally. (Yes, I’m aware that I just sounded like an infomercial. Nevertheless, it’s late and I’m delirious, so the cheesiness stays.)

Anywho, according to Merriam-Webster, aioli is defined as “a mayonnaise flavored with garlic and sometimes other ingredients.” Although fancy mayo works well enough for me, I suppose I’ll be culinarily-correct and go with the former. And because making just one aioli would have been boring, I made two.

These guys are deeeee-lish. I envision the sun-dried tomato aioli on a monstrous veggie sandwich or stacked turkey club. Meanwhile, I imagine the chipotle aioli on a southwestern-style burger or lightly drizzled over avocado and heirloom tomato toast. The options are endless! How can you see yourself putting these dolled-up condiments to use?

Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups olive oil mayo
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • Cracked black pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until smooth
  • Spoon into a pint jar and label

Chipotle Lime Aioli

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups olive oil mayo
  • 6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I like food with a kick, so if you like yours on the milder side, I’d start with 2 peppers and add one/blend, add one/blend, etc. until you reach the level of heat that you prefer.)
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until smooth
  • Spoon into a pint jar and label

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Pictured: honey & maple turkey, provolone, avocado, English cucumber, mini plum tomatoes, and sun-dried tomato aioli on a soft wheat baguette.

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Slow Cooker Lamb Stew

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Well, well, well… I have finally got this stew thing down. After making it several times over the past year or so, I’ve concocted a recipe that is entirely my own and everything that I’ve ever wanted in a stew. My secret ingredients – of course, no longer secret after this post – are dry red wine and fresh lemon juice. Why? Both ingredients add bright, complex flavors to any dish, and this stew is no exception. Personally, I loved it with lamb, but any red meat can be used.

Simply put, this stew is easy to make, hearty, and delicious, making it perfect for a laid-back winter meal. Do yourself a favor and serve it with a loaf of fresh-baked, crusty bread for dipping.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. celery seed
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 lb. leg of lamb
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine (I used Malbec)
  • 15 purple potatoes, halved
  • 15 golden pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 cups carrots, shredded
  • 3 portobello mushroom caps, diced
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch (or thickening agent of your choice)

What you’ll do:

  • In the bottom of a slow cooker, stir together the EVOO, parsley, basil, celery seed, garlic, and desired amount of salt and pepper; coat the leg of lamb with the mixture
  • Stir in the lemon juice, broth, red wine, potatoes, onions, carrots, and mushrooms
  • Cook on high for 5 hours, or on low for 9 hours
  • Remove any remaining meat from the bone (most should have fallen off on its own) and break into smaller pieces if needed; add the meat back to the slow cooker and discard the bone
  • Stir in the tapioca starch until the broth thickens and the stew is thoroughly mixed together

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Dark Chocolate Chunk and Macadamia Nut Cookies

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‘Tis the season for baking! While I’m all about trying recipes that are new and different, when it comes to cookies, I’m more of a Plain Jane. Nothing – I repeat, NOTHING – tops a perfect chocolate chip cookie in my eyes. Thus, instead of even attempting to create my own chocolate chip cookie recipe I went straight to the Gods of perfected recipes, also known as America’s Test Kitchen. Their recipe, literally titled “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies,” can be found here. I gave this recipe my own flair in two very simple ways: by adding macadamia nuts and by substituting dark chocolate chunks for semisweet chocolate chips. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 14 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chunks
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • Parchment paper

What you’ll do:

  • Adjust the oven rack to its middle position and heat the oven to 375°F; line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a medium-sized bowl; set aside
  • Heat 10 tbsp. of butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes; continue cooking, swirling the skillet constantly until the butter is a dark, golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes; remove the skillet from heat and, using spatula, transfer the browned butter to a large bowl; stir the remaining 4 tbsp. butter into the hot butter until completely melted
  • Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated; add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds; let the mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds; repeat the process of resting and whisking two more times until the mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny
  • Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute; stir in the chocolate chunks and nuts, giving the dough a final stir to ensure that no flour pockets remain
  • Divide the dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tbsp.; arrange two inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet
  • Bake the cookies one tray at a time until they are golden brown and still puffy, and their edges have begun to set, but their centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking
  • Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving

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Crunchy Asian Detox Salad with a Sesame-Soy Vinaigrette

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This post may or may not help you prepare for the holidays in two ways. First of all, I concocted this salad in anticipation of all the not-so-healthy foods and beverages that I will be consuming this holiday season. Secondly, if you’re having trouble determining which items should be on your Christmas List and are a home cook in any way, shape, or form, you need a mandoline slicer in your life ASAP. Or, at the very least, a julienne peeler. Why? Because my mandoline slicer is my newest and most favorite kitchen gadget, and it made this salad possible.

If you’re unfamiliar with mandoline slicers, they allow for produce to be sliced in a variety of ways, ensuring uniform thickness every time. Even better, the thickness of the slice can be adjusted according to what you’re making. Long story short: they’re awesome. Of course, I’m already brainstorming all of the wonderful salads, fries, and chips I will make.

Speaking of fries and chips, back to the detoxifying properties of this salad:

  • Apple cider vinegar // anti-diabetic, supports immune function, lowers cholesterol, aids in weight loss, prevents indigestion
  • Ginger // spikes metabolism, cleanses the liver, flushes out waste
  • Garlic // immune system booster, cleanses the liver, high in sulfur, anti-biotic
  • Sesame seeds // protects the liver, lowers cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant
  • Mung bean sprouts // lowers cholesterol, high in fiber
  • Carrots // cleanses the liver and flushes out waste, lowers cholesterol, anti-oxidant
  • Daikon radishes // high in digestive enzymes and fiber, cleanses the kidneys, anti-oxidant
  • Red cabbage // cleanses the liver, high in fiber and sulfur, anti-oxidant, lowers cholesterol
  • Broccoli //cleanses the liver, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant
  • Apples // high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial phytochemicals that aid in the detox process

Although I researched the physiology behind why all of these work so well, I’ll spare you the details. While the RN in me loves those nitty-gritty details, I understand that the average human does not. Of course, there are so many other detoxifying foods out there, but I didn’t want throw everything but the kitchen sink in the bowl for the sake of being all-inclusive. Anyway, without further adieu…

PART 1: THE DRESSING

Note: Yields 2.5 cups of dressing.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients, minus the sesame seeds, in a food processor; blend until smooth
  • Stir in the the sesame seeds

PART 2: THE SALAD

Note: Yields a lot. If you’re not planning on eating a large bowl everyday for a week, I’d half the recipe.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 3 large daikon radishes, peeled and julienned
  • 1/2 a red cabbage, cut from top to bottom, shredded
  • 2 broccoli stalks, julienned
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
  • 2 large apples, peeled and julienned

What you’ll do:

  • Once prepped, combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Stir in dressing, starting with 1 cup; add more as desired; use any leftover dressing for green salads!

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Four Ways to Update Your Wall Art and Photo Frames

…on the cheap. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: I’ve got champagne taste with a beer budget. While I hope to one day have all of my walls adorned with original art, that’s simply not in the cards for me at this point in my life. However, to do things on a budget does not mean that you need to compromise elegance. Most of my frames were housing prints that I’d had since college. Sorry, Van Gogh. “Almond Blossoms” stole my heart for a while, but I had to move on.

Here are four simple and affordable ways in which I updated my bedroom’s wall art and photo frames:

ONE // I made a poster collage via Printstagram, which is a super awesome company that links its website to your social media accounts and allows you to print all kinds of lovely things. The size of the poster that I went with costs $25 and fits most poster frames. I already had a poster frame that was (of course) too big for this print, so I ordered a pre-cut mat board to make it work. Well, it all worked out for the best because I ended up loving the look of it with the mat so much more. Even with the mat in the picture (uh, no pun intended), this project should cost no more than $50 bucks.

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TWO // Do you have any photos that you’ve taken that you just love? Or at the very least have a photographer friend or family member whose work you really admire? Simply edit a couple of your/their shots and get them printed. As illustrated above, mat board makes everything look a touch more elegant. I edited these photos on iPhoto, got them printed through Apple and shipped to my doorstep, and framed them with pre-cut mat board from Blick Art Materials in Center City Philadelphia. All in all, the cost of this project is $15 for both frames.

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THREE // While Printstagram offers 4×4 prints, the minimum amount that you can order at a time is 24. Sometimes, you don’t want 24 prints. Sometimes, you want only one print for that adorable, 4×4 picture frame you scored at Homegoods. That’s what the Walgreens app is really great for. It links to your Instagram account and prints however many (or however little) photos you desire. I believe this particular print cost me 42 cents? 44 cents? Either way, it was cheap and I love it.

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FOUR // I couldn’t really capture the essence of how beautiful this print is, but it’s a “Map of the Plant Regions or Florae” and it’s an antique from an 1873 World Atlas. I love plants, I love maps, and I love antiques, so there shouldn’t be any mystery as to why I’m obsessed with this guy and wanted to showcase it. Unfortunately, being that it’s so old, its dimensions are bizarre and it doesn’t fit in standard-sized frames. Shocker: I went with mat board to solve this problem. However, this time I couldn’t go with pre-cut mat due to its odd size. The folks at Blick cut a custom mat board for me so that it now fits in a standard 11×14 frame. While custom generally means more money, this project still cost me less than $50. Vintage and antique maps can be found by the boatload on Etsy. Also, if you’re in the Philadelphia area, there is a vendor who sells beautiful maps at the Phila Flea Market.

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