Pickled Red Onions

I have always strongly disliked raw red onions. Even though in small amounts they can be tasty and cooked they are delicious, nothing can ruin a salad or a burger like huge chunks of raw red onion. Maybe its just me, but that sharp taste will stay in my mouth all day no matter what I eat or how many times I brush my teeth. Ick.

But pickled red onions. Those are a whole other story.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Two essential things to make raw red onions more palatable are slicing them thinly and adding an acid. For this picked red onion recipe you do both. How handy.

Pickled Red Onions

Don’t judge my handwriting.

For some reason when I think of pickling I think of boiling jars and pickling salts and all kinds of other things that I don’t really want to pursue. But luckily you really only have to do those things if you want your pickled whatevers to last more than an year. With this simpler pickling method they should be good for 3 weeks, which is fine by me.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 large red onion
1 1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
3 teaspoons of whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick

1. Thinly slice the onion and set apart. If you have a mandolin this would be a great time to bring it out.
2. Set aside the onions in a small bowl.
3. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil.
4. Pour the boiling mixture over the onions in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight (or until completely cool).
5. Once its cool, transfer it to a jar and keep in the fridge. It will keep for three weeks.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions have even more tang and sweetness, they retain their crunch yet that sharp lingering taste is gone. Plus they turn a lovely pink color and look quite nice on everything.

Pickled Red Onions

It’s such an easy recipe and I’ve been adding them to everything. Made a stir fry with broccoli + cauliflower + kale with ginger and garlic then added the pickled onions on top. Also made a salad with arugula, roasted squash, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and added the pickled onions to that too. Lastly, have not made this yet (am currently waiting on the good will of the avocado ripening on my counter)but plan to make carnitas tacos with guacamole and pickled red onions. That jar will be gone in no time 🙂

TIPS:
1. Feel free to customize the spices. Thyme, rosemary, jalapenos and lime would be great additions as well depending what you’re going for.
2. And the amount of sugar.
3. If you want your onions a bit softer you can throw them into the boiling vinegar mixture for 20 seconds before draining and letting it sit until cool.
4. If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or another more neutral tasting vinegar would work nicely.

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Fig, Honey, Thyme & Goat Cheese Yogurt Popsicle

So I’ve noticed a lot of our recipes have really long titles and this no exception. I just really want people to know what’s in them right off the bat I guess? I was going to call them red, white and blue popsicles in honor of the upcoming holiday but I thought that might be pushing it as figs are really more purple than blue on the outside…

Figs

Figs

Also I was way too excited to get a half day on Wednesday and with that and no work on Friday I basically did not really remember to finish this post until today. So I guess the red, white, and blue is not really applicable anymore…

Figs from the farmer's market

Figs from the farmer’s market

Figs are amazing. I am aware they are not the most popular fruit and as a kid I tried to pretend I didn’t like it because I thought the interior of the fig looked like “tentacles” but they are delicious. Plump, sweet, and incredibly fragrant I suggest you find yourself some figs before they’re gone!

Figs

Figs

Perhaps the only downside with figs is that they are indeed highly seasonal and a touch on the more expensive side. I have bought figs from Trader Joe’s ($2.99 for a basket not bad at all), from the Little Italy Farmer’s Market ($4.99 for a basket) and Whole Foods ($5.99 for a basket) and sadly despite the TJ’s one being super cheap they were also not quite worth the money as they were still green on the outside and even after ripening were mostly hollow and dry inside. The one’s from the farmer’s market were the best, and I will be picking more up this weekend!

Figs

Figs

There is not much you need to do to enjoy figs, I find that they’re best when super fresh, it almost seems like a waste to cook them into anything unless they are dry or past their prime.

Figs

Figs

One of my favorite ways to eat them is as a light snack, drizzled with honey and then sprinkled with thyme and good feta or with a dollop of thick greek yogurt if you are not into the salty and sweet thing.

Fig with Thyme & Honey

Fig with Thyme & Honey

Fig + Honey  + Thyme + Greek Yogurt

Fig + Honey + Thyme + Greek Yogurt

And as much as I like them fresh, I perhaps got too excited about figs and having bought some from the farmer’s market and Trader Joe’s I decided to use some of the Trader Joe’s ones to make popsicles. More specifically: fig, greek yogurt, goat cheese, thyme and honey popsicles. This might have also been influenced by me recently acquiring these nifty little Zoku popsicles molds.

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

Zoku Popsicle Molds

I got these from Pigment in North Park, this store sells all kinds of interesting decor, books and food items as well as all the components you would need to build your own terrarium. Zoku also has these other instant popsicle molds that will have your popsicle ready in 6 minutes or something of that sort. I can wait more than 6 minutes for my popsicles so I got the regular kind but those are a good option too for you more impatient types 🙂

Fig, Honey, Thyme and Goat Cheese Popsicle

Fig, Honey, Thyme and Goat Cheese Popsicle

INGREDIENTS:

Makes 2 popsicles with my molds, to make more double, triple, etc. accordingly.

1 cup of greek yogurt
4 tablespoons of goat cheese
sugar/agave/sweetener to taste
4 tablespoons honey
1 sprig of thyme
3 figs, chopped
popsicle molds

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Whisk the greek yogurt, goat cheese and sugar/agave/sweetener together until smooth.
2. Taste to see if its sweet enough for your liking, keeping in mind we are adding some honey after. Add more if necessary.
3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the honey, thyme leaves, and chopped figs. Beat the figs around with the whisk a little so they break down a little until the whole mixture is the lightest shade of pink.
4. Add the last 2 tablespoons of honey but only mix in slightly so you still have swirls of honey.
5. Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze for at least 3 hours or according to popsicle mold instructions.
6. Eat!

Yogurt and Goat Cheese

Yogurt and Goat Cheese

Cherry Blossom Honey

Cherry Blossom Honey

So basically with popsicles or ice cream the more impurities you add to your liquid base the less solid it will be. Adding sugar, fat or alcohol all will make your popsicle softer. For this recipe I used nonfat Greek yogurt but using full fat would give you a creamier popsicle.

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

Greek yogurt, goat cheese, honey and thyme

This is a lovely very grown up popsicle with good tang from the goat cheese, a floral flavor from the honey and figs and lastly a slight herbal earthiness from thyme. I don’t know that kids would enjoy it as much as adults but this is a perfect light dessert to serve after a summer BBQ.

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

Fig, Goat Cheese, Honey & Thyme Popsicles

TIPS:
– If you don’t like figs other fruits that can be substituted would be strawberries, apricots, grapes, blueberries or peaches.
– Thyme and the goat cheese could also be omitted. For the herb component you could also substitute it, some herbs that play nicely with sweeter flavors are rosemary, tarragon, mint, lavender, and basil.
– Different kinds of honey would add different dimensions to the flavor, I used a light cherry blossom honey but buckwheat honey would add a deeper honey flavor that would be lovely with the thyme.
– Lastly, if you want a really creamy popsicle you could always substitute heavy cream for the greek yogurt! But just make sure the cook the cream with the sugar before so that the sugar is properly dissolved.

5 Minute Healthy Salad – Strawberries, Feta, Almonds, Turkey + Thyme

One of the best ways to eat healthy during the work week is to BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch. Cooking a bigger portion ensures you have extra leftovers to bring to work. However there are days when there are no leftovers to be had and very little time in the morning to prep something to take to work. Even though I have turned to Trader Joe’s frozen meals and PB&J’s, I also learned how to make tasty, filling salads that I can throw together in 5 minutes. I love salads with berries and this an easy strawberry salad that requires minimal cooking and will be ready to go in your trusty tupperware in less time than you take to shower in the morning.

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

The best part about this recipe is that the basic concept is there but you can substitute whatever you have in your fridge: if I don’t have strawberries I throw in blueberries, if I don’t have feta I use goat cheese…No turkey? A tiny bit of bacon is not going to kill you. It’s all good 🙂

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

INGREDIENTS:

Mixed greens
5 strawberries
2-3 slices of roasted turkey breast (not the cheap rubber-y kind please)
Handful of almonds
Feta
3 sprigs of thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat up a small frying pan and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to it.
2. Rip up the turkey in small pieces and add it to the hot pan. Season to taste and let it get crispy and brown around the edges.
3. While the turkey is browning fill your plate/bowl with the mixed greens and slice up your strawberries and place them on top of the greens.
4. Add almonds, thyme leaves, then crumble feta on top.
5. Add the turkey thats browned.
6. Combine the 2 tbsp of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a small bowl then whisk together and season to taste. If you are eating this right away pour it on top and toss to combine. If taking to work add it to the bottom of the container so everything doesn’t wilt and you can toss it all together before eating.

Amounts in this recipe are fairly loose because you should not be measuring things that early in the morning. Just add however much you want of each ingredient. I recommend adding A LOT of toppings so that the salad feels like a meal and you’re not just eating greens by themselves like a rabbit :/

You could also always add more meat like chicken breast. I like using meat as just an accent as opposed to the main ingredient in this salad because reducing your meat intake is good for you (but hard to do!) and although we tend to cook full meals for dinner (complete with steaks or salmon filets and whatnot) there are so many tasty ingredients you don’t miss it in this salad.

Strawberry

Strawberry

A great way to make salads more flavorful too is to use herbs like salad greens. If you have ever had tabbouleh or fattoush or other Middle Eastern salads, they use parsley and mint as if they were salad greens not just accent herbs. So have herbs on hand! I grow rosemary, basil, parsley and thyme. All are doing pretty well except for the parsley which apparently cats like to eat…

For this salad basil, rosemary, or mint would also pair beautifully with the strawberries.

Thyme

Thyme

Basil

Basil

Rosemary

Rosemary

So this is a lovely 5 minute salad for spring, look out for future posts on a super fast nicoise style salad and citrus-avocado based salad…

TIPS:
– If you don’t have strawberries: blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries would all do – just make sure its fresh fruit!
– We used fat free feta but using real feta makes the salad creamier and using goat cheese even more so!
– If you don’t have almonds, hazelnuts would be particularly good here. Or else pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachio and most nuts would work…perhaps not peanuts.
– Candied nuts always are really good in berry salads as well! Those have a lot of calories so we stayed away from them this time.
– Any mixed greens maybe with the exception of iceberg lettuce could be used as a base – butter lettuce, romaine, spinach, etc.
– If you use a pre-made low fat dressing that would save you even more time!

Easy Roast Chicken Dinner

There is a show on Food Network where a lady layers ready made Jell-O cup filling with fruits and cookies to make makeshift trifles. Although we have never done this and cannot attest to how good it would taste, we like the concept of the show of mixing ready-made ingredients with cooking from scratch in order to make fast meals that don’t come straight from a box (only a little from a box).

For days when all you want to do is stop by Chipotle and get a burrito or order in pizza we have an alternate solution. Instead of Chipotle, stop by your local grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken, boxed mac and cheese, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and shallots. You’ll have a lovely meal in no time.

What we propose is serving the rotisserie chicken as is (the main part of the meal is completely ready), adding some mushroom bechamel sauce to your mac and cheese to kick it up a notch and then make a quick brussel sprout hash. Easy and delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

CHICKEN:
1 rotisserie chicken

Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie Chicken

MAC AND CHEESE:
1 box of mac and cheese mix (we like Trader Joe’s Organic White Cheddar Mac n Cheese)
1 cup of milk (heated)
1 sprig of thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of sliced mushrooms (we like baby portobello for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite!)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup of shredded sharp white Cheddar
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Directions:
1. In a small pan, saute the mushrooms with the olive oil and thyme until brown (about 4-5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper
2. Melt the butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming.
4. Whisk the milk it into the butter and flour mixture.
5. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is smooth.
6. Stir in the the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese.
7. Add the mushrooms then season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
8. Prepare the boxed mac and cheese according to instructions.
9. Add the mushroom bechamel sauce to the prepared mac and cheese.

Mushroom White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Mushroom White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS:

BRUSSEL SPROUT HASH WITH CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS:
3 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
Coarse kosher salt
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water

Directions:
1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat.
2. Add shallots; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper.
3. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
4. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes.
5. Halve brussels sprouts lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch) slices.
6. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
7. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown at edges, 6 minutes.
8. Add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon of butter.
9. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, 3 minutes.
10. Add shallots; season with salt and pepper.

Brussel Sprout Hash

Brussel Sprout Hash

Now just assemble everything together and you have dinner! It definitely still feels like a home cooked meal but without all the effort.

Dinner!

Dinner!

Mac and cheese sauce inspired by Tyler Florence’s Mac and Cheese Recipe
Brussel Sprout Hash recipe from epicurious

TIPS:
– The mac and cheese would also be wonderful with wild mushrooms and maybe a dash of truffle oil if you’re feeling fancy.
– We suggest you use mac and cheese that’s a tad nicer than the bright orange stuff, there are many boxed mac and cheese mixes that are tasty without using that many artificial ingredients.
– Other cheeses that would be good in the bechamel sauce are subbing some of the cheddar for mozzarella (for melty stretchiness) and maybe adding some parmesan for taste.
– Finding brussel sprouts that are already sliced thinly would make the brussel sprout hash prep quite speedy.

Brooklyn Girl Eatery

Brooklyn Girl is a great spot in Mission Hills doing fresh and inventive food and one of our favorite go-to neighborhood spots. The restaurant has a nice look to it and definitely lives up to its “Brooklyn” title. It’s housed in a warehouse style building but has a cool vibe with modern art on the walls, big crystal chandeliers in bird cages and trees wrapped in lights inside. They have a restaurant seated dining area, a bar area, communal tables and a “pantry” section that sells food items.

Menu

Menu

We have been here a couple times and not only do we love the food but the service seems to be on point here. Also the bar and communal dining tables are great when you want to stop by but do not have a reservation.

The bar area

The bar area

BREAD: In fact you do not get bread, they instead serve you popcorn which has been spiced differently every time we’ve been. Last time it was Thyme and Butter Popcorn (shown below) and the previous time it was a spicier version.

Thyme & Butter Popcorn

Thyme & Butter Popcorn

APPETIZER: Ok. You must try the Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs. With a name like that how can you even pass it up? Between the flavorful pork, the crisp salty bacon and the sweet-spicy glaze this hits all the right spots. The slaw on top doesn’t hurt either.

Ginger Glazed Bacon Wrapped Pork Meatballs

Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs

Vietnamese Meatball

Vietnamese Meatball

ENTREE: This is one of the few restaurants where the chicken can compete with steak and seafood. Normally we always go for steak/seafood when eating out but here the roasted chicken is amazing. Another fantastic standby is their Williams Burger. You pick between cheddar and blue cheese and can add cherry wood smoked bacon, a fried egg, or fried oysters for extra. We definitely suggest adding the bacon. This burger comes with the classic sides (lettuce, tomatoes, pickle) and the Kobe/Angus beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare. No crazy aioli’s or unusual ingredients, just a classic done right (including the crispy thin fries!). Sometimes you can really tell the caliber of a restaurant when even their salads sound/are delicious. We ordered the Duck and Date salad and if you are a fan of duck this is the dish for you. The duck is falling off the bone tender and comes accompanied by frisee lettuce, spinach, Marcona almonds, chopped up dates and banyals vinaigrette. The richness of the duck pairs well with the sweet chewy dates and the fresh greens, a great cold weather salad (it’s been chilly lately in San Diego!).

Duck and Date Salad

Duck and Date Salad

Williams Burger

Williams Burger

SIDES: One of the must order sides is their Cornbread and Honey: freshly baked cornbread (made to order) with a molten white cheddar core is topped with honeycomb and brought to your table. It’s sweet and salty and we actually prefer it as an appetizer than a side. Another notable side is the Brussels and Bacon. If you normally think of brussel sprouts as limp, yellow-y, boiled bitter little bundles you are in for a treat. They are deep fried until they are shattering-ly crispy on the outside then served with bacon and caramelized pecans. Definitely a fantastic thing to add to your order and we always end up fighting for the last few pecans.

Brussels & Bacon

Brussels & Bacon

Brooklyn Girl has simple but inventive takes on dishes and we like that it makes good food thats relatively affordable. This coupled with the good service and nice ambiance ensures that we will keep returning here, at least until we can find out how to copy those Vietnamese meatballs…

CHECK:
Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs $11
Williams Burger $14
Duck and Date $12
Brussels and Bacon $8
TOTAL: $48.60 (w/ tax)

Brooklyn Girl Eatery
4033 Goldfinch St
San Diego, California 92103
brooklyngirleatery.com