Soupa Avgolemono- Yia Yia’s Egg-Lemon soup

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Happy Wednesday Everyone! I have to say, it feels wonderful to be back in the blogosphere! Yes, I know, it’s been a hot minute since I last posted. I’ve been exploring new job options, all keeping with the end goal of learning to run my own successful business one day. Working the classic 9 to 5 versus my usual and familiar yet erratic Realty gig has been invigorating in that reassuring, “I can be just like any other hard working human” sort of way. In the searching process, I have to admit, I was neglecting my passion for cooking. Now that I am back, it feels so good to be back in the kitchen, creating. Through all of this, I have learned that no matter what the future holds, I can always count on cooking to bring me back to life and re-ignite my creative passions. I can always find comfort in my very own kitchen. So, with that, for my first recipe post in over a month, I present to you a classic from my Yia Yia’s kitchen: My all-time favorite comfort food, Soupa Avgolemono

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Cooking with a Clay Pot: Achiote Pork Tacos and Arroz Verde

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One of my favorite wedding gifts that we have received so far is this gorgeous clay pot cooker from Williams-Sonoma. I have actually never cooked with a clay pot, but have been intrigued to try cooking with this method ever since I was little and would eat Kleftiko in Cyprus every summer. Kleftiko is a traditional Cypriot dish that’s basically lamb that cooks at a very low temperature in the clay oven to the point where it’s almost melting with deliciousness. Since the clay oven is pre-soaked with water, at these low temps the steam from the clay along with the low cooking temperatures is what makes the meat so incredibly tender and melt-y. The clay pot incorporates the same methods, just in a mini version you can pop right into your oven at home. The key is to pre-soak the bottom 3 inches of the pot in the sink with cold water for 10-20 minutes before cooking. Oh, and if you start with a cold oven, not a pre-heated oven, that will make a difference as well in how the steam will release from the clay.

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Go for the Bubble Tea, Stay for the Buns… Veggie Heaven Review | Austin, TX

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As a student at the University of Texas, I remember walking by this tiny little restaurant nearly every day, the garlicky smells flirting with my nose buds (nose buds are real, right?) until my friend Amaranta eventually coaxed me inside after having tried it and fallen in love herself. Walking in, I discovered the place really IS tiny, with funny little lucky cat decorations and wood paneling on the walls. But the smell!! I knew if the food was as good as it smells, this was the beginning of something beautiful. And it was love at first bite. I can’t remember exactly what I ordered that day, but I CAN attest that every dish I tried after that was just as amazing as the first.  

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My Crazy Yummy Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Today I’m posting a Comfort Classic recipe for Monday, since I actually haven’t made a real “one pot meal” in the last week. But I figure my spaghetti and meatballs are so delicious and comforting, which is just as important for a Monday meal. My spaghetti and meatballs recipe is one of my go-to classics dishes I have been whipping up for over 10 years now. After years of practice and perfecting, many a guest can attest that this is one of their favorite meals I’ve produced from my kitchen. It’s one of those comfort classics that I often times crave after a tough day. Or after an easy day. Then again I could eat this pretty much any day actually. I use a smoked cumin in the sauce, which adds a special, savory quality you will LOVE when you make it. Fresh tomatoes are also key to keeping everything fresh and bright. The meatballs are packed with all kinds of spices and even Parmesan cheese that really set them apart from other meatballs. And of course, I recommend using perciatelli instead of plain old spaghetti, for it’s magical sauce-soaking powers.  Give this a try. Trust me. You will NOT be disappointed 🙂

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A Childhood Favorite: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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It was a chilly, rainy day in Houston circa 1989. My brother and I had just come home from school. We had both forgotten our rain boots that day, and I remember my mom hurriedly pulling off our rain-soaked shoes and providing us with some of her very own luxurious terry-cloth slippers to wear. Propped up on the couch, we didn’t even have to start homework right away that day, and instead got to watch Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats on TV.  “You guys want a leetle snack?” My mom asked in her Greek accent, “How about some greeled cheese and tomato soup?” We had never had this before, but we were served it at a friend’s house last weekend, and I remember coming home and exclaiming that it was my new favorite food. “Oh, reeely?” My mom asked, looking at me through the rearview mirror with a curious yet almost hurt expression. Looking back to that moment, I now know that the competitive side in her that I so obviously adopted when it comes to cooking was up for a challenge. She was not only determined to make this “new favorite food” of mine, but to make it way better than what I had at my friend’s house. As she clamored out of the kitchen, large blue eyes a-twinkle with pride and steamy red bowls of soup in tow, I knew this was going to be one gooood snack. The sandwiches were grilled with a crisp olive oil coating, the cheese was so much cheesier, and the soup was hearty but not overly creamy like at my friend’s house. Even back then, I could tell this was better. And I told her so. My brother’s tomato stained face was his affirmation to her that he liked it, too. Fast forward 20+ years, and today, I have my own recipe that will hopefully bring my future children the same feeling of comfort we were brought on that rainy day all those years back.

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Korean Barbeque? Or Tacos? Why not both?!

Beef Bulgogi French Fry Tacos

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Greetings fellow Blog-lings! Today I am posting one of my absolute favorite recipes I have ever made. I was inspired to share after watching that Food Network show, Best thing I Ever Made last night. I actually came up with this recipe one day when I was simultaneously craving Korean barbecue and tacos. I was going back and forth on what to make, and then I thought (lightbulb!)… Why not try semelding (is that a word?) both together into an insane Korean/Latin taco of glory?? … Latin meets Korean meets Greek. I actually got the idea of the French fries from how they serve street gyros on the Greek islands… piles of succulent lamb meat, tzatziki sauce and veggies, and as if that wasn’t ridiculously delish enough, they top them with these crispy french-fries…A-mazing!! So anyways, that’s the Greek influence…That, and the oregano 🙂 . The end result of all this fusion-ing? Absolute deliciousness. I try to make these on special occasions, and they have always blown people away. So, I am passing on the recipe to you guys. There are a few steps, including a 4-hour marinating time, so make sure you allot time before dinner to make these. I hope you enjoy, and have fun eating with your friends and family. They are always conversation starters…In Korean, Greek, and Spanish, of course. Ok, that was a little cheesy. Couldn’t resist.

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The Perfect Crispy-Skinned, Succulent Meat Roast Chicken

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Who doesn’t want to impress their friends or loved ones with the perfect roast chicken? I’m talking about that fragrant, gorgeous bird with the extra crispy skin and the moist, juicy meat. The kind of chicken that haunts your dreams…Ok maybe not “haunts your dreams” per se, but the kind you crave more than KFC or Chic-Fil- A on a bad day. Not possible, you say? Give this recipe a go and see if I can change your mind. After serving some sub-par chickens through the years, I made it my mission to create the best roast chicken I could dream up. It took a lot of fails and almosts, but I finally did it… and now it’s your turn. There are a few key secrets to ensuring that the skin is nice and crisp, and that the meat is super tender. A couple, which I will go into with more detail in the recipe, are a very patted down, dry-skinned chicken, and BRINING!!! Read on to see how these tricks will make your chicken kick chicken butt.

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Smoked Salmon and Mustard-Dill Orechiette

Mustard Salmon and Dill Orechiette

I have always loved the classic combo of salmon, mustard, and dill. In Cyprus in the summers, where my mom’s side of the family is from, we love going to this cozy little Italian restaurant that has the most amazing pastas. We always order a few different pastas for the table to share, to further maximize our lusty, pasta-inhaling experience. One of our must-haves that we always order is their salmon mustard pasta. The mustard dill sauce just bursts with flavor and creaminess.  This is my adaptation of that pasta. It’s a very savory pasta, and the different layers of flavor components really create a diverse, delicious sauce for the orechiette. In my adaptation, I subbed out the baked salmon for smoked salmon and added some mushrooms for even more flavor and meaty texture… The mushrooms seem to tie the dish together, and the smokiness of the salmon takes it to another level of good.

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Ceviche-style Fish Tacos with Avocado Mousse, Sweet Potato bites and Escabeche

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This is another recipe birthed from an afternoon of dreamily wandering down the aisles of Central Market. I wanted to try a different spin on the traditional fish tacos I make every couple of weeks or so, and when I spotted some gorgeous fresh limes sitting in the citrus aisle, I thought “ceviche!” This ceviche-style fish taco with the escabeche adds a great element of acidity that works really well with Latin-inspired cuisine as well as seafood. I balanced the acidity with the avocado mousse and the black beans. There ARE quite a few steps to this recipe, but most of them are quick and easy, so don’t be scurred! Give this recipe a try, and I promise you won’t want to skip any of the steps, as each adds a layer of different flavor to the tacos.

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