Monday, July 9, 2018

Shrimp Feta Bites

Ever since I discovered Toby's Chunky Feta Dressing and Dip, I've been obsessed! Luckily for me, they periodically send me coupons to restock their products for free! This is a revamped recipe that I've made in the past with mayonnaise and feta cheese.

Replacing those ingredients with Toby's Chunky Feta Dressing and Dip made a lot of sense to me. The dressing is made of cultured milk, expeller pressed non - GMO canola oil, vinegar, eggs, onion, garlic, dill, salt, organic cane sugar, mustard flower, milk whey, vitamin A & D, L. acidophilus, B. bifidum, and guar gum. No preservatives... and contains live cultures!

I love the taste of Toby's chunky feta so much, I often find myself standing at my kitchen island with fresh red bell peppers or carrots, dipping and snacking. I love that the dressing is made in Oregon and I can find it at my New Seasons store down the road. I also love when local products reach out to me. So, here's how I made these delicious shrimp feta bites!

  • 10 large shrimp, cut in thirds
  • 2/3 cup Toby's Chunky Feta Dressing and Dip
  • 2/3 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 2 packages of Athens mini fillo shells (30 shells)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix first three ingredients.
  3. Fill shells, and cook 10 - 12 minutes until shrimp are cooked and cheese is melted.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Kefir Acai Bowl

Recently, an Oregon based juice company reached out to me on Instagram to invite me to try their products. Their juices are organic, non - GMO, hand crafted in small batches, and they work with local farms, which I love. After trying them, I found that their juices are perfect in our smoothies and smoothie bowls! 

For years, I've tried to eat healthy, organic, sustainably, and local as often as possible. Then on March 20th, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I thought of all the cookbooks I'd read over the years. Most of the Paleo books were written by people who were ill and found that the diet increased their chances at better health. Not that I think I got cancer by eating the wrong food. And not that I think eating all these items will eliminate the cancer. I'm actually having surgery on Monday, then a little radiation a month later. And now I really, really wanna eat healthy to try and keep any future diagnosis of cancer off my chart!

I looked up cancer fighting foods, and here are a couple of new things that I found. 

KEFIR - Kefir benefits in the fight against cancer are due to its large anti-carcinogenic role inside the body. It can slow the growth of early tumors and their enzymatic conversions from non-carcinogenic to carcinogenic. (From Dr. Axe) You can find it in the yogurt section of the grocery store. I eat a cup of 99% lactose free Lifeway kefir everyday with a spoonful of hemp seeds. And I add a splash of the lactose free drinkable kefir to my daughter's smoothie every morning.

HEMP HEARTS - We like the benefits of hemp hearts because of my eczema and my daughter's PMS symptoms. (From Healthline) Hemp seeds are also on the alkaline food chart. They are full of Omega 3's & Omega 6's too.

There are also tons of other great things you can add into your smoothies for health benefits like spirulina, probiotics, green tea, and apple cider vinegar. Here's how we put together this smoothie bowl.

We used Oregon based Genesis Organic Juice. We love how good they are for you, and how good they taste!

  • 2 Sambazon Acai Original Blend Packs
  • 1 banana, half for blending and half for topping
  • 1/4 cup Genesis Organic Strawberry Lemonade
  • 1 teaspoon hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup strawberry kefir
  • 1/4 cup frozen fruit
  1. Place the acai packs in warm water a few minutes, until you're able to break each into smaller pieces, then cut the top open and place in a blender or what I use, a Nutribullet. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients, blend until smooth, then pour into a bowl.
  3. Top with fresh fruit, unsweetened coconut flakes, and more hemp seeds.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cilantro Lime Sauce

My first visit to Farmhouse Kitchen, a fairly new Thai restaurant in Portland, I fell in love with the wagyu beef rolls that came atop a green cilantro lime sauce.

Michelin - recognized Farmhouse Kitchen has an original location in San Francisco, and the new location in Portland, Oregon resides on Hawthorne Boulevard, one of my favorite areas in the city. My older daughter Gianna loves this area. It's a little odd how she feels so at home here, because she will shake her head about visiting Pioneer Place just because a homeless or sketchy guy once approached us for money there. I remind her that Louis Vuitton shoppers are more common than homeless types there. Well, in my mind anyway.

We are absolutely in love with Farmhouse Kitchen and their Thai dishes. The cilantro lime sauce (shown above in the wagyu beef appetizer)  is also available with the curry fried calamari, which also induced my husband's instant admiration. So I decided to just Google "Thai cilantro lime sauce" to see how people made it. I found several variations, then put together my favorite items to make my own!

I pretty much use the sauce anywhere that I previously used nuoc mam, or the traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce used for spring rolls. It also goes well with any dish that you previously added chimichurri to.  I'm just so addicted to the sauce, I have a hard time putting it away once I open the ever so present jar that sits in my fridge. Try it for yourself!

Flat Iron Steak Spring Rolls

  • 1/2 cup torn cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 tbsp scallions
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat is my recommendation)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar (organic cane is what I use)
  • 2 thai chilis
  • 1 tbsp toasted rice powder
  • 4 cloves garlic

Combine everything in a blender, food processor, Magic Bullet, whatever you have, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Barbecue Shrimp Pascal's Manale Style

When I was a pharmaceutical specialty sales rep in Arkansas, we had a meeting in New Orleans with the rest of our district. My closest friend Kay, a Louisiana native, planned all our meals. This was one of the most unforgettable dishes I've ever had in a restaurant.

New Orleans is a beautiful city with such tremendous culture and cuisine. The first time I visited was during Mardi Gras when I was nineteen with my best friends Angelica and John. There were a lot of firsts that visit, including my first taste of an oyster, my first time to start drinking before noon, and a tattoo that ended up being not only the first but the last!

My last visit to New Orleans was just as unforgettable. My plane had arrived late to the airport, so I walked into a crowded conference room filled with about a thousand people where my work meeting had begun without me. I grabbed a seat at a table full of strangers. The Vice President of Sales was announcing the usual listing of the top reps in the country. Everyone stood when their name was announced, received some applause, then remained standing. Then he announced the last person. "The number one rep in the country is Thanh Rasico from Little Rock, Arkansas." I stood, smiled at my friends standing near the door, and looked down to notice my table staring at me in awe.

"You're number one in the COUNTRY?!" a girl asked. I nodded joyfully. I had been for ten months. It had taken over a year to climb from a much lower ranking to get there.

"You're cardiovascular specialty now aren't you?" I nodded again. It was as if the division had been created just to fulfill my dream of being promoted. That night, my manager took our district to Pascal's Manale for dinner. There was an hour wait, but the bar was spacious. And the wait was so very worth it!

I've been making Pascal's Manale's signature New Orleans barbecue shrimp at home a lot lately. Although the original recipe was made with olive oil, I found another recipe that made it with butter. I tried both, and I've decided I'm sticking with butter.

One of the things I miss most about Arkansas is the close proximity to Louisiana crawfish, Texas barbecue, and Memphis fried chicken. Not that I'd ever move back. I can find plenty of that stuff right here up in the Pacific Northwest. But here's how I make myself feel like I'm back home again when I miss a little part of it!

  • 1 pound (16-20 count) large shrimp, heads on - Wild Caught, American
  • 5 tsp Manale Spice (see below)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Louisiana hot sauce
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or real butter (I've seen recipes using both!)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
Manale Spice:
  • 4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
(Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.)

  1. In a large skillet, add shrimp, Manale Spice, garlic, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, stirring constantly. Pour olive oil in, then white wine. Stir to blend thoroughly.
  2. Cook over high heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add butter, cook an additional 2 minutes until butter is thoroughly melted. 
Note: I also have combined all the ingredients in the oven and cooked for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Stir well before serving.

Note: The recipe I followed can be found here with an explanation on why headless shrimp are often used. They may be difficult to find because the preference is wild caught, American, not farmed or from less sustainable sources.

Note: Another recipe here uses margarine, which I don't use because I always use real butter. This recipe also calls for Chablis, which I never drink. My preference is Sauvignon Blanc, and I only cook with wine that I would drink. So like the recipe says, this is my version of what I've found from original sources. But with my own twist.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Sauce

For the longest time, we bought spaghetti sauce from jars. Then I started obsessive label reading after reading Skinny Bitch. Sugar. In so many brands. And my husband hates sweet spaghetti sauce. So I started making my own. I had also never had enchilada sauce before, so I looked up how to make the homemade variety. It was love at first taste!

Enchiladas never appealed to me before. My interest was piqued when a blogger friend here in Portland made a meatball recipe with enchilada sauce. I wondered if I was missing out on something. Indeed, I had been.

My husband loved it. I could tell he wondered what the catch was. Why had I never made this before? I've cooked tortillas from scratch, he loves my guacamole, we've even made the most laborious tamales on occasion. He asked if enchiladas were fattening. Nope, I told him. The sauce is just a little oil or butter with some stock and seasonings. And flour for thickening. Then the rest is meat, cheese, and tortillas.

I make this casserole all the time now, and it has become a Rasico family favorite. Except for Sasha of course. I found the recipe for the sauce from Gimme Some Oven. Sometimes I cook gluten free or paleo, so you'll see the options in my recipes. 

These are the spices that make up all the flavor:

Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp oil, butter, or ghee
  • 2 tbsp flour or tapioca starch
  • 4 tbsp chili powder (not cayenne)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ( I probably use more actually)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
Casserole Ingredients:
  • 6 medium tortillas, we use corn
  • 2 cups of Mexican blend cheese 
  • 2 cups of sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Coconut or olive oil spray
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Make the sauce: heat oil, add flour, whisk, then add spices. Gradually add stock, whisking to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10 - 15 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Brown the ground beef, drain, then add to the sauce.
  4. Spray a small, rectangular pan with oil.
  5. Heat the tortillas until crisp.
  6. Layer the sauce, 2 tortillas, then meat, then cheese. Repeat.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese has melted.
  8. Garnish with avocado and more cheese if desired.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mini Tuna Melts with Bacon, Aioli, and Gouda in Phyllo Shellls

I came up with this recipe by mentioning to my daughter Gianna that I wanted to create a recipe using tuna. I looked in the fridge to see what I needed to use up before we move to our new house, and I randomly threw these items out there. "That actually sounds good," she said.

The crisp, flaky phyllo shells housed the tender tuna and grated gouda quite well. 

I thought it would be fun to play around with different toppings to make the presentation pretty, so I chose lemon and garlic dipped avocado pieces, chives, and tomatoes. What a fun, tasty new invention!

  • 15 mini phyllo shells
  • 1 (5 oz.) can of tuna, thoroughly drained
  • 3 tbsp. aioli or Best Foods Organic Garlic Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of grated gouda or other cheese
  • 2 strips of bacon, crisped and chopped (Farmer John is my favorite)
  • Toppings: avocado, tomatoes, chopped chives
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix the tuna, aioli, 1/4 cup of the cheese, and the bacon together. Salt & Pepper to taste.
  3. Place about a teaspoonful into each shell. Top with remaining cheese.
  4. Cook 8 minutes, then add toppings and serve.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

My family loves pasta dishes, so I make them often! This has become a favorite of mine to make because it's so easy, it has all of the Rasico's favorite flavors, and leftovers are always requested for later.

When I met my husband, I had a job waiting tables in an Italian restaurant. I was also a trainer, so I taught new servers about Italian culture and gave them tests on the menu items and made sure they knew how every dish was prepared, because the menu was pretty unusual, and customers would have questions. The kitchen was open, so part of training was watching the items get prepared. Needless to say, I learned how to cook a lot of Italian food this way.

You can use any pasta in this dish. I chose mini penne because it's bite sized, and my husband is not a big fan of angel hair. I came up with this dish because he recently ordered the traditional chicken parmesan dish at an Italian restaurant, so I wanted to prepare something similar at home that he could pack up for later and take to work with him. This Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake would also be a great dish to prepare for gatherings where everyone is pitching in. 

  • 1.5 cups of uncooked pasta
  • 2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of Italian blend cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Italian herbs
  • 1 can (28 ounces) of crushed tomatoes
  • Torn basil, for garnish
  1. Bake the chicken for 25 - 35 minutes at 425 degrees, or until done. Let cool, then shred. 
  2. Prepare the pasta per package instructions, until al dente. Drain. 
  3. Combine chicken, pasta, and crushed tomatoes. Add Italian herbs and mix.
  4. Spray a square baking dish with oil, then preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Spread half of the pasta mixture into the dish. 
  6. Top with half of the cheese, then the other half of the pasta mixture.
  7. Top with the remaining cheese, then bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  8. Let rest 10 minutes, then garnish with torn basil and serve.