Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Creamy Orange Banana Smoothie

July 20, 2013

This smoothie has changed breakfast time for me. No more bagels or cereal, just this. It tastes like a creamsicle milkshake! It is 8 Weight Watchers plus points.

1 large or two small frozen bananas
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 oz. (1 package) Trader Joes nonfat strawberry Greek yogurt

I cut up my banana and put it in a zip top bag in the freezer the night before. This is essential. Peeling a frozen banana is just about impossible. Learned that the hard way!

Dump everything into the blender and blend at maximum power. Drink up!

A variation on this is a frozen berry smoothie:
1 cup frozen berries
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
5 oz. vanilla nonfat greek yogurt
This one is 7 WW plus points.


Turkey Chili

July 15, 2013

2 diced onions

2 cloves minced garlic

1 lb. 93/7 ground turkey

One 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with jalapenos (or Rotel)

One 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

salt to taste

tapatio hot sauce to taste

1 cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese


Spray a large sauté pan with cooking spray. On high heat, cook 1 of the diced onions with the ground turkey until the turkey is no longer pink.

Add in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Cook 30 seconds.

Add in the can of diced tomatoes with the juice.

Add in the rinsed black beans and a few dashes of tapatio. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Add salt to taste.

Cover and let simmer on low for at least 30 minutes.

Top with the other diced onion and 1 cup shredded cheese


This recipe is 34 Weight Watchers Plus points for the whole thing including the cheese. If you serve it over brown rice, each cup of rice adds 5 points.

French Onion Risotto

March 31, 2011

Today is my husband’s birthday, but we celebrated with his birthday dinner last night. One of his favorite things that I make is risotto. I was going to just make plain risotto with shallots, garlic, chicken broth and parmesan. It’s a perfectly delicious dish. But then something happened.

Last weekend, my husband made his famous French onion soup. We had his sister and her boyfriend over and we all devoured it. They loved it so much, they wanted the recipe. So he sent it to them yesterday and copied me on the e-mail so I’d have it too. Then it hit me: combine the French onion soup recipe with my risotto recipe. Could it work? I had onions, I had thyme, port, bacon and gruyere left over from when he made the soup. Yep, I could make this happen without a trip to the market! So I did and now I’m sharing the recipe with you.

4 strips of center cut bacon

1 1/2 very large or 3 small onions, diced

2 Tbsp. salted butter

5 cups low fat, low sodium chicken or beef stock (veal stock would be ideal, but it’s hard to come by)

a few sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cups arborrio rice

1/4 cup port

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup dry vermouth

1/3 cup grated gruyere cheese

parmesan cheese to taste

salt, if needed, to taste

1 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional)

1 tsp. truffle oil

Put the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat and let the fat render out of it for about 5 minutes on each side, then remove if from the pan. You can either use the bacon for something else, or chop it up and sprinkle it on top of the risotto just before serving.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add the diced onions to the pan with the bacon fat. Cook them slowly for a long time until they are completely soft, a little translucent and starting to brown, stirring every few minutes. This could take a good 30-45 minutes, but it will be worth it. Be patient here, and it will really pay off.

In the meantime, put the stock into a pot and turn on the heat. Add in the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and bring to almost a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover to keep hot.

Add the butter to the pan with the onions and turn the heat up to medium. Add in the rice and toast it in the fat/onion mixture until it just starts to brown and the grains start to look translucent.  Add in the port, balsamic vinegar and vermouth. Stir until it is all absorbed.

Now you start the process of slowly adding stock and stirring over and over again until your risotto is perfect. Add in 3/4 cup of stock, then stir until it’s completely absorbed. Do not let the rice mixture come to a boil. You want to cook it slowly. Repeat until you’ve used all the stock and the rice is tender, but still has a slight bite to it, al dente.

Add in the cream and the truffle oil, if you’re using it. I highly recommend you use that truffle oil. Yeah, it’s expensive but it will take the risotto from yummy to mind blowing. Now add in the cheese and taste for saltiness. If it needs salt, add it. Mine needed about 1/4 tsp. Eat up and enjoy!

Recipe makes enough for 4 people as a main dish or 6 people as a side dish. There are only two of us, so we have a lot left over. You’re not really supposed to serve left over risotto, but when have I ever followed the rules when it comes to food? I had it for breakfast this morning and it was delicious!

Green Curry

October 29, 2010

This recipe for green curry is adapted from one I learned in culinary school. You’ll end up making a ton of paste that you can use several times. It’ll last a few weeks in the refrigerator or even longer in the freezer. Beware – the longer it sits, the hotter it gets!

For the curry paste:

6 Tbsp. ground coriander

4 Tbsp. ground cumin

2 Tbsp. ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. kosher salt

1.5 cups lemon grass

1.5 cups garlic

3/4 cup shallots

4 Tbsp. galangal

Zest of 6 limes

1-2 cups thai green chiles

1.5 cups cilantro

5 Tbsp. shrimp paste

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

juice of 1 lime

12 thai basil leaves

To make the curry paste, get out a food processor and blend everything above together. You’ll probably have to do it in batches. When you’re done, it will look like this:

For the dish:

2 small cans coconut milk

3 small chicken breasts

1 large onion

4 small eggplant

12 thai basil leaves

6 lime leaves

juice of 2 limes

salt to taste

Mix 5 heaping tablespoons of the curry paste with 2 small cans of coconut milk. Set aside. Put the remaining curry paste in the refrigerator or freezer.

Brown the chicken and onions until the chicken is almost cooked. Add in the eggplant. Stir in the coconut milk curry mixture. It should be enough to cover the chicken and veggies at least half way. Add in the thai basil and lime leaves. Please note, the lime leaves are NOT edible. Remove them before you eat! Let the whole thing simmer covered for at least 45 minutes or until the eggplant is done. Take out those lime leaves. Finally, add in the juice of 2 limes. Serve over jasmine rice.

Eggplant Marinara Sauce

September 24, 2010

My friend Heather M. has a garden. Wonderful things come out of this garden. She grows giant zucchini!

The tomato is there for size comparison. It’s not a big tomato or a small tomato, but an average sized tomato. But still – look at the size of that zucchini!

She has also given me peppers, tomatoes and, my favorite, Japanese eggplant.

My Grandma goes to a little produce stand in the North San Fernando Valley (a suburb of Los Angeles) once a month to get the most amazing, flavorful, huge, ripe tomatoes I’ve ever had. Here’s one next to a decent sized head of garlic:

I found myself with a bunch of tomatoes and a bunch of Heather’s Japanese eggplant that were about to go bad. So I decided to roast them with a bunch of other vegetables and make a marinara sauce with them. This sauce is deceptively simple, but has the most wonderful, creamy, hearty texture and delicious, rich, complex flavor.

Here’s what you do! Get out a big sheet pan. Cut 5 or 6 small Japanese eggplant in half. Peel and cut some onions in half (red and white). Cut the very top off a couple of heads of garlic and put them on the sheet pan – skin and all. Put some delicious tomatoes on there too. If you have room, you can also add peppers or any other veggies you feel like sneaking into the sauce. Coat all the veggies in olive oil, mixing them around with your hands. Wipe off your hands and then sprinkle them all generously with salt and pepper.

Pop them into a 450F oven for 40 minutes or until the eggplant are very soft and almost falling apart.

Take the veggies out and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Squeeze each garlic clove out of its skin and throw out the skins.

In the meantime, if you want mushrooms or other whole veggies in your sauce, saute them in a little olive oil in a big sauce pan. Now you should add whatever herbs you like: oregano, thyme, rosemary, fennel, and basil are all good. Next, deglaze the pan with a little white wine and cook until the alcohol is mostly cooked off. Now you’re ready to start blending!

Get out your trusty blender or food processor and blend up those roasted veggies in batches. Pour the resulting puree into the sauce pan with the other veggies and herbs. Mix well, taste for salt and add some if you need it. I usually don’t. Heat up and serve over the pasta of your choice with a little bit of a good quality parmesan grated on top. 

This is a great way to get a bunch of vegetables into you (or your kids) without feeling like you just ate a garden. The roasted garlic and eggplant make the sauce extremely rich and creamy, but there’s no fat in it other than the olive oil you roasted the veggies in and the little bit of parmesan cheese you may choose to put on top!

Perfect Cinnamon Pancakes

August 21, 2010

Made-from-scratch cinnamon pancakes are one of the best things you can wake up to in the morning. Here is my recipe for making them perfect.

First, whisk together the dry ingredients in a big bowl until well combined:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Now add in:

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

milk (amount to be determined by you)

Stir in milk until you have a pretty loose batter. It should look something like this:

I usually use around 2 – 2 1/2 cups milk total. Now you’re ready to cook them up!

Use a large, dry non-stick pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and let your pan heat up for a good while before you put any batter in.

Use 2 heaping Tbsp. of batter for each pancake. Now just wait. Don’t flip them until lots of bubbles start to appear and pop and the edges look dry.

They should be this color when they are done.


Add the traditional butter and syrup or whatever topping you like. I like mine with almond butter, but I’m weird! You can also feel free to add whatever you like to the batter. Sometimes, I add a little vanilla extract or some banana. If you make these, please let me know how they come out. Have a great breakfast!

Dream Recipes

June 28, 2010

I do strange things in my sleep. Once, I made cupcakes. Honest. I woke up and the oven was open (and thankfully OFF) with cooked cupcakes inside. No one else had access to my apartment. Scary right?

Well, what’s not scary is when I dream about cooking and wake up remembering what I made. My dream a couple of nights ago involved an arugula salad and a cheese quiche. I decided to make them for dinner tonight and here are the results!

Arugula Salad with Honey-Mustard Balsamic Dressing:

A whole bunch of arugula  mixed with just a little chopped mint, sliced red onion, sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced tomatoes, a few marcona almonds and a couple shavings of a good quality ricotta salata (or parmesan if you can’t find it).

The dressing has about a tsp. of honey, a Tbsp. of dijon mustard and 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Four Cheese Quiche:

Either make your own pie dough or buy it. I had some left over from the apple pie I made for Father’s Day, so I used that.  This recipe is for a standard 9″ pie. As you can see in my picture, my pie plate is enormous so I used way more. More for us!

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp. butter

4 eggs, beaten

2 Tbsp. whole milk

1 cup monterey jack cheese

2 Tbsp. cream cheese

1/4 cup cottage cheese

2 Tbsp. feta cheese

Cook the onions in the butter until very soft and brown. Put in the bottom of the prepared pie crust. Mix all the cheeses together with your hands, squishing them to make a smooth mixture. Then combine well with the beaten eggs and milk. Put the mixture on top of the onions and bake the whole thing at 375F for 50 minutes. Shake it gently and if the center doesn’t jiggle too much, it’s done.

Now if I could only dream up a couple of good recipes a night, I’d have a book out in no time!
Arugula on FoodistaArugula

Braised Lamb Shanks with Potatoes and Carrots

May 28, 2009

This is not an Armenian recipe or even my Grandmother’s recipe, but I thought I’d share it on here anyway.

A note on using wine when cooking: Feel free to use “2 buck chuck” or any other cheap Cabernet Savignon here, I did. But do not under any circumstances use “cooking wine”. Cooking wine has lots of additives including a whole bunch of salt you don’t need.

3 large or 6 small lamb shanks

vegetable oil to coat pan

1 bottle cabernet savignon

1-2 boxes low sodium fat free beef broth

thyme chopped finely to taste

rosemary chopped finely to taste

zest of 1 orange

1 can low sodium diced tomatoes with juice

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 large onion, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

1 leek, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bag baby carrots

6 small red potatoes

salt and pepper to taste

enough flour to dredge the lamb shanks in

enough flat leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish

Put a pot big enough to hold the lamb shanks, potatoes and carrots on the stove. Spray with cooking spray or add a LITTLE oil and turn the heat to high. In the meantime, combine flour with a little salt and pepper. Dredge the lamb shanks in it and shake off excess. Sear the lamb shanks in the pot over HIGH heat. It will not burn, but it will smoke so make sure you have the fan on and the windows open. Sear on each side. It will stick at first but just leave it on until the meat releases from the pan. Remove meat from pan and set aside.

Spray the pan again or add a little oil. Turn heat down to medium. Add in onions, leeks, celery, orange zest, rosemary and thyme and saute until onions are soft and clear. Add tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook just a few seconds until you start to smell it.

Add entire bottle of wine. Cook until wine reduces a little and all the alcohol is cooked off. This could take a long time so be patient. Keep stirring and scraping up all the stuff that stuck to the bottom of the pan. This is known as “fond” and it is pure flavor.

Add the lamb back to the pan. Add enough beef broth to cover the shanks completely with liquid. Let the liquid come back up to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for 2 hours.

Add in the potatoes and let cook covered on low for another 1 hour.

Add in the carrots and let cook UNcovered on medium for another 1/2 hour.

If there is still a lot of liquid, uncover, turn up to high and let it reduce until it starts to thicken. Taste for seasoning and add salt. Important: do NOT add salt until the very end. If you add it in the beginning, the sauce will reduce and it will get way too salty.

Yes, it took a long time but you are finally ready to eat and believe me, the time was worth it. Serve up in a bowl with some of the liquid and garnish with parsley. It will be the most tender flavorful lamb you’ve ever had and you just can’t rush it.

Taheenly (Armenian Tahin Bread)

May 20, 2009

The Art of Armenian Cooking says tahin bread is “a favorite Armenian Lenten pastry”. My great-grandmother just made it whenever she had dough leftover from making lahmajoon.

Dough: – see dough ingredients below for lahmajoon with one change: instead of 1 Tbsp. sugar, use 3 Tbsp.


1 16 oz. jar tahini

2 cups sugar

1 stick butter, melted for brushing the pastry

Make the dough according to the lahmajoon directions below up until the point when it doubles in size. Punch down and divide into tangerine sized balls. Let the balls rise for 15 minutes before adding the filling.

Filling: Just mix the sugar and tahini together very well, making a paste. Melt the butter and set aside with a pastry brush.

Now comes the hard part to explain – forming the dough and the filling into what you see above. I’ll try to do my best but if you have any questions, feel free to comment and I”ll answer them.

Get a ball of dough and roll it into a long rectangle. It should be about half the width of your hand. Roll it out as thinly as possible. Brush lightly with butter. Put about two heaping Tbsp. of the filling in a thin row down the length of the rectangle. Leave a 1/2 inch with no filling at the ends. Now fold a third of the dough over the filling from the left side. Repeat with the right side, sealing the filling in. Roll out lengthwise again to flatten, being careful not to squish out the filling on the ends. Now you want to coil the dough around like a snail’s shell into a circle. Roll out once more to flatten. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. After 15 minutes, keep watch on them because they go from raw looking to brown very quickly.

Tahin bread is kind of an acquired taste. You really have to like tahini. If you don’t, I suppose you could substitute peanut butter or any nut butter.

Lisa Cooks

May 8, 2009

I graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu program in Hollywood, CA in August of 2008. But that’s not why I started this blog.

Just after finishing culinary school, my Grandma and I started cooking together once a week. She is Armenian so most of what we made was her or my great-grandmother’s recipes from the old country. Lots of instructions “to taste” and “a handful” or “until it feels right”. I had been wanting to write down more accurate recipes, but that’s not the only reason I started this blog either.

In 2008, I decided to use my favorite search engine to look up some of these recipes. There’s a huge Armenian population both in Los Angeles, and in the midwest, believe it or not. I figured there had to be tons of recipes for the dishes I grew up on. I was wrong. I found loads of articles on where to buy Armenian food and describing what it was, but very few recipes. The recipes I did find were completely different from my Grandma’s way of doing things.

My great-grandmother was from a small village in Turkey called Hadjin. She fled during the Armenian genocide at the age of 12 on a boat by herself. That’s a whole other story I may tell someday on here. The reason I mention it now is, Hadjin had its own dialect and, as I’m finding out, its own food. The food is similar to other Armenian and even Greek and Lebanese food, but just enough different that I felt it should be documented somewhere.