Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sapporo's Summertime Menu

If you're like me, then you're always looking for things to do in AZ to stay out of the heat during the summertime. So when Sapporo reached out to me to introduce their new Summer Menu, 3-courses for only $35 I jumped at the chance to meet with Executive Chef Mark McLaughlin and Sushi Chef Michael Tam; who opened Sapporo 15 years ago, to talk about his inspirations in the kitchen and also get to taste-test the menu, there was nothing to say but a big fat HELL YES!

All of the menu options are inspired by Chef Mark's favorite summertime dishes then fused with Sapporo's signature Pacific Rim flavors. So be prepared to feast on a variety of seasonal favorites from your choice from 3 different dim sum options to your selection of a main course, and don't forget to leave room for dessert, all prepared with the season's freshest ingredients.

We were even lucky enough to taste some dishes not on the summer menu, so I just had to grab some shots of those as well, so if you're looking to feast outside of the box, there are plenty of options as well. And yes, that is a rose made out of tuna that you see!

Let's begin with the Dim Sum course. Your choice of Tasty Roll (grilled tuna, tempura shrimp, asparagus, and avocado), Hoisin BBQ Ribs (tender pork ribs with a hoisin BBQ glaze; and my personal favorite), or the Wonton Poke Taco (ahi tuna inside of a wonton "taco" shell, with wakame salad and wasabi cream).

And hopefully that first course warms up your decision making skills because you choice of entrees, the Izakaya course, is downright impossible to choose from. First there's the Grilled New York Strip with melty blue-cheese, demi-glaze and seared vegetables. Then there's the Grilled Salmon with a teriyaki glaze, coconut basmati rice, and asparagus. Or your third option is the Panang Curry Shrimp with crispy egg noodles and habachi grilled summer vegetables.

But don't think you're done just yet, because then the friendliest staff in town asks you if you are ready for dessert, which you will excitedly answer "yes" to, and then you get to choose from the Oolong-Poached Asian Pear, served with a side of vanilla ice cream in a cinnamon sugar tuile, or the Banana Spring Roll; a banana wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried until nice and crispy, served with a side of vanilla ice cream and a caramel raspberry drizzle.

Oookay, so I am just recovered from my food coma, and now writing about it has me itching to go back for more! And the best part about my trip to Sapporo was getting to learn the recipe for their Coconut Basmati Rice; perfect to make at home and pair with chicken, fish, or even grilled vegetables. So run, don't walk to Sapporo to get in on the Summertime Menu while you can, and for those of you not local to the Phoenix area, be sure to try your hand at their Coconut Jasmine Rice!

Coconut Jasmine Rice:

  • 2 cups Jasmine Rice
  • 1/2 cup dry sweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
Wash the rice wall with water in a large fine mesh sieve and drain. In a bowl, mis together the coconut milk with the water. 

Add the rinsed rice and the coconut milk/water to a large 4 quart pot, bring to a simmer, and cover with the pot lid. Cool until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring every few minutes to keep the bottom from sticking.

While the rice is cooking, toast the coconut flakes in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 450 degree F oven, or in a large skillet on your stovetop. Toast for about 5-10 minutes, stirring often to prevent it from burning. Remove from the heat. 

When the rice is done cooking, stir in the toasted coconut flakes and allow to cool for 5 minutes or so before serving. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rigatoni with Mini Turkey Meatballs

I am welcoming Friday with open arms. And what better way than with arms full of cheesy pasta goodness? And I can't decide what's cuter; the mini meatballs, mini mozzarella, or the mini rigatoni? But there's nothing "mini" about the flavors of this dish. Creamy tomato sauce, al dente pasta, flavorful meatballs, and fresh crisp basil. That's just what the weekend ordered.

Rigatoni with Mini Turkey Meatballs

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. finely minced onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (I used my homemade)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup mini mozzarella balls
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish

Preheat broiler to high. Place a sheet of tin foil on a large baking sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and milk and allow if the bread crumbs to soak up some of the milk mixture; about 3 minutes. Then add in the turkey, egg, onion, parsley, yogurt, parmesan, salt & pepper. Mix well.

Using a small cookie scoop, form as many small meatballs as you can, placing them about 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Broil for 3-4 minutes, careful not to burn, until just cooked (they will finish cooking in the sauce).

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and save 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. 

In a large pot, or deep-sided skillet, heat the tomato sauce over medium heat. Once simmering, add in the cream and the meatballs. Add in the reserved pasta water and continue to simmer until thickened slightly. Allow to cook for 3 minutes before adding in the mozzarella balls. Stir once again. Garish with basil leaves and serve hot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spicy Shrimp & Avocado Lettuce Cups

Well hello there! I have missed this here blogosphere over the past week. But in all honesty, I just couldn't pull myself away from watching the Olympics, that blogging took a back seat. And you know what? It felt really good! I got my hubby to watch some sports (that's a feat in itself), and he LIKED it!! We have had so much fun cheering on the red, white, and blue, and there is nothing more motivating to get our butts in the gym than looking at the most insanely fit humans on the planet for hours a day. So needless to say we have been hitting the weights and trimming our plates if you will! Case in point, these spicy shrimp lettuce cups. This recipe is perfect to serve 2 people, but easily doubled for a family of 4. Green, clean, and lean, this is a simple dinner that can be thrown together in under 10 minutes, giving you more time to cheer on this weeks track and fields stars, volleyball, and more swimming (our fave!). 

Spicy Shrimp & Avocado Lettuce Cups
Makes 8 Cups

  • 1 cup slaw mix
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Spicy Shrimp:
  • 1/2 lb. wild caught peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
Lettuce Cups:
  • 8 leaves of butter lettuce
  • 1 avocado, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • freshly chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, toss together all of the ingredients for the slaw. Place in the fridge to let the flavors merry until ready to serve. 

In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Sprinkle the mixture over the shrimp, covering both sides of the shrimp. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add in the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until just cooked through and an opaque pink color.

To assemble the cups, place a spoonful of slaw in the middle of each butter lettuce leaf. Top with 2-3 slices of avocado, and 2-3 pieces of spiced shrimp. Top with sliced jalapeno and more cilantro if you prefer. Serve immediately. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer Fruit Chicken Salad with Crispy Fried Goat Cheese

This salad can stay. 

When you receive a fit bump from your husband after dinner, you know you've scored big time. Plus this salad really works better with a partner, since one of you can man the grill while the other fries the goat cheese. Yes. Fried. Goat. Cheese. So perfectly crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside, there's nothing better. Mix that with fresh mango and blackberries, and you've got yourself a KILLER salad. Plus, you can easily make this with your favorite combinations, or whatever is in season. I'm already dreaming about replacing the blackberries in my vinaigrette with strawberry, pineapple, and even mango! So grab a friend or two and get busy before the summer fruit is gone!

so pretty. can't handle.

Summer Fruit Chicken Salad

Blackberry Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. peach white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fried Goat Cheese
  • 8 oz. log honey-flavored goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp. high-heat oil (such as peanut or avocado)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 lb. chicken breast
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • butter lettuce leaves

In a food processor, whip together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette until smooth. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Add the chicken breast to a large zip lock bag and pour in 1/3 of the vinaigrette to marinate the chicken with. Keep in the fridge for 30 minutes, up to overnight.

Slice the goat cheese log into 1/4-inch thick medallions, place into a cutting board and pop into the freezer for about 10 minutes, allowing them to keep their shape when fried. While they are chilling, set up your assembly line. Line up 3 bowls, and add the flour to the first one, your whisked egg to the second bowl, and your panko to the 3rd bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to medium-high and grill the chicken until cooked through; a few minutes on each side, until an instant read thermometer reads between 160 and 106 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the grill and allow to rest.

Add oil to a large frying pan or skillet and heat to high. Cover frozen goat cheese medallions in flour, then egg, then panko, repeating until all medallions are covered. Lower heat to medium-high and fry the breaded goat cheese, for 1-2 minutes on each side, until both sides are crispy golden brown. Remove from the oil and allow to rest on a paper towel, absorbing the excess grease.

Once the chicken has rested, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices, and prepare to plate the salad. Add butter lettuce to the bottom of the plate, top with sliced chicken, fried goat cheese medallions, avocado, mango, onions, blackberries, and top with the blackberry vinaigrette. Serve.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thai Inspired Turkey Stir Fry

Thursday is usually about the time of the week where I'm feeling about as productive as possible, and I don't care what my bank account or the scale reads. All I want is to order take out and veg. But then I do think about said bank account and scale (damn scales), and I convert my local pad thai dreams into DIY homemade take-out. Ground beef, sautéed vegetables, fresh basil. What's there not to love? So go ahead, get "take-out" tonight!

Thai Inspired Turkey Stir Fry


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. high heat oil (such as peanut or avocado)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 small orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, cooked
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce (or soy sauce alternative such as coconut aminos)
  • 1 tbsp. honey or agave nectar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside. 

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat for a minute before you add in 1 tbsp. of oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the garlic before it burns. Lower the heat slightly (medium-high) and add in the peppers and onion. 

Cook for 4-5 minutes until softened and starting to brown, remove from the hot pan and set aside. Add in the remaining oil and add the ground turkey to the hot oiled pan. Break the turkey up with a spoon as it cooks, you want there to be no pink remaining and the turkey to be slightly browned. 

At this point, add the peppers and onions back in as well as 1 cup of the chopped basil, stir to combine, then add in the sauce that you prepared earlier. Cook for 1 more minute to incorporate the sauce. Serve hot over jasmine rice, and garnish with lots of fresh basil.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala

It's summer. It's hot. It's humid. I basically have zero motivation to do anything that doesn't involve me laying under the ceiling fan. So when it comes time to start dinner around the hottest point of the day, let's say I am less than thrilled. Then comes crockpot to the rescue. This Tikka Masala made with chicken is started when I get up, and done by the time I get home from work. Just look at that bright red/orange sauce. Delish!

Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala

  • 2 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. garam masala
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • cooked jasmine rice

In a crockpot, add in all of the ingredients except for the coconut milk, cilantro and the rice. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Once the chicken is cooked, add in the coconut milk and stir to thick the sauce.

Serve the chicken and sauce over warm jasmine rice, garnish with lots of cilantro leaves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tin Foil Grill Packs

I'm really not sure what I would do without a grill. I mean, could I live? Yes. But would it be as satisfying? No. The grill is a place that my family always gathered around. My dad would cook everything from salmon to steaks to kabobs to yes, of course, hot dogs! I have carried the ease of grill cooking into my home as well, grilling pizza, veggies, burgers, and the easiest clean up meal of all time, these Foil Grill Packs! Toss them on the grill, use the foil as a plate (optional), then toss! WHat's even more is that you can literally fill these things with whatever your heart desires. Okay, maybe not ice cream, but just about anything else. So grab every vegetable from your fridge and pantry and get cookin'.

Foil Grill Packs

  • 8 evenly sized sheets of aluminum foil
  • 4 organic chicken sausages, sliced into discs
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, halved horizontally, then sliced into half moon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat grill over medium high heat. In a large mixing bowl, toss together all of the ingredients. Lay 2 slices of tin foil on top of each other, and repeat 3 more times, so that you have 4 different double-layered tin foil packs. Divide the mixture evenly among the four tin foil packs. Wrap up the packs tightly and place onto a hot grill, cooking for 20 minutes, until the veggies are softened and the sausage is heated through. 

Serve hot. Feel free to serve among rice, quinoa, mashed sweet potatoes, you name it!


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