Monday, April 8, 2013

I've moved!

Check out my blog at its new address!

Hope to see you there :)

I'll be keeping this blog up for a little while, but not forever. All my old posts are available on my new website :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

Buffalo chicken has to be one of my favorite foods ever.... and of course it's one of my boyfriend's favorites! I love it in pretty much any incarnation, whether it be the classic buffalo chicken wings, or a twist on the classic, such as a topping on a pizza, inside egg rolls, in potato skins, etc. If it has buffalo chicken in the title, it can pretty much be guaranteed that I'll try it.  When this recipe popped up on Smells Like Home a month ago, I immediately put it at the top of my "make after this detox" list. Ron was all for it because even though it's a healthy salad, buffalo chicken makes everything exciting!

The buffalo chicken in this recipe is baked, which cuts the guilt down even further. It's breaded in a toasted panko breadcrumb coating, and baked on a wire rack, which ensures that the chicken will stay crispy, rather than soggy.  The creamy avocado ranch dressing is a perfect accompaniment to the salad, although if you wanted, you could certainly serve it with a regular ranch or blue cheese dressing. I will most definitely be making this regularly. Ron has already requested a repeat of this meal, and I will be fulfilling that request soon.

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Serves 2-4 (Depending on how hungry you are!)

1 recipe buffalo chicken (recipe follows)
Avocado ranch dressing (recipe follows)
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Blue, feta or cheddar cheese
Crumbled bacon(optional)
Scallions or red onions (optional)
Celery (optional)

1. Assemble individual salads. Place buffalo chicken on top. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Buffalo Chicken
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3 large egg whites
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
Cooking spray
1 lb chicken tenderloins ( or boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4-inch strips
1 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot Original)
3 Tbsp salted butter

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and place a wire rack on the sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add canola oil and breadcrumbs. Toss together and stir until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a shallow dish or pie plate when toasted.
3. In a second dish or pie plate, stir together the flour, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper, if using. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.
4. To prepare chicken, dredge each piece in the flour mixture, then the egg whites, then the breadcrumbs. Place on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet. When all the chicken is coated, spray the tops with nonstick cooking spray. (I highly recommend getting an oil mister- that way you can use your own oil, without all the other ingredients that the cooking spray usually contains.)
5. Place the chicken in the oven and make for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and the coating is golden brown.
6. While the chicken cooks, place the butter and the wing sauce in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments until the butter is melted. Whisk together to combine.
7. When chicken is cooked, dredge each piece carefully in the buffalo sauce to coat.

Avocado Ranch Dressing

1/2 avocado, removed from skin and diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Up to 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 small bunch of chives, or 1 scallion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4 cup buttermilk, chives (or scallions), parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, in a blender. Blend for about 10 seconds. Scrape down side, add more buttermilk if desired to change consistency, and blend until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Smells Like Home

Buffalo Chicken Previously: Buffalo Chicken Melts

Here are some other buffalo chicken recipes from around the web that I'd love to try!
Buffalo Chicken Monkey Bread (Confections of a Foodie Bride)
Buffalo Chicken Bites (Tracey's Culinary Adventures)
Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls (Smells Like Home)
Buffalo Chicken Sliders (Country Cleaver)
30-Minute Buffalo Chicken French Breads (How Sweet It Is)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins

Weekend breakfasts are wonderful! I love taking my time in the kitchen cooking up some bacon and fried eggs, an omelet or the occasional batch of pancakes, but I am always on the hunt for good weekday breakfast recipes. Because I have to be at work at the bright and early hour of 7 AM, I don't have time or energy in the morning for a long leisurely breakfast, and even cooking something quick like eggs turns me off because of the dishes it dirties cooking them. These banana-apple buckwheat muffins are a perfect solution. They can be made a couple of days in advance, they are healthier than regular muffins as they are pretty low in sugar (and the sugar comes from natural sources- honey, banana and apple), and to top it off, they are very tasty! This is my first time cooking with buckwheat flour, but it definitely won't be my last. It's a great source of protein and is naturally gluten-free!

Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins
Makes 4 Muffins

1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 mashed banana
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sweet apple finely diced (honeycrisp or pink lady would work well)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a muffin tin, place 4 baking cups.
2. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt to a bowl and whisk together. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, banana, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Add the apples and walnuts, and fold in.
3. Split the batter between the 4 baking cups. Fill the empty cups with water. (This will help the muffins to bake evenly.)
4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool on a rack.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Here are some other recipes using buckwheat flour that I've come across in my search so far that I'm itching to try:

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake (David Lebovitz)
Vegan and Gluten-Free Vanilla Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes (Oh She Glows)
Yeasted Buckwheat Pancakes (Not Without Salt)
Buckwheat Crepes (Gluten-Free Girl)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Spring really seems to have arrived here in Connecticut! I actually have been able to go outside without a winter coat, and have had to turn on the air conditioner while driving around in my car. I am extremely excited about this development! We have a couple of 40-something degree days this week, but the rest of the 10-day forecast is in the 50's, with a couple of days reaching 60!! I know it's mundane to talk about the weather, but hey, if I'm excited about it, I assume others are too!  Now, this dinner is not spring-like at all, but it is still worth sharing! This is from week 3 of the Whole Living Action Plan (I have one left to share after this before I get back to our regularly scheduled programming).

I love squash! Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, delicata... They are all good to me. This stuffed squash is a really good, hearty way to make squash a main dish. It would be wonderful to have in the fall (or winter, spring or even summer if you want to turn on your oven), and I think it would make a fabulous vegetarian/vegan main dish for Thanksgiving!!

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 2

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/3 cooked white beans
1/3 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup kale, chopped
2 Tbsp toasted* hazelnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, flip squash over, and set aside.
2. While the squash is roasting, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes, until tender. Add the sage, thyme, beans, quinoa and kale to the onion, and cook about 2 minutes, until the kale is wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Stuff each half of the acorn squash with half of the quinoa-bean mixture. Roast about 15-20 minutes, until golden.
4. To serve, top each acorn squash half with 1 Tbsp hazelnuts, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

*To toast hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and roast for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Halibut with Roasted Beets

When I first looked at the title and ingredients in this recipe, I was hesitant. Halibut? Good! Spinach? Good! Beets? Goooood! But together? I wasn't so sure. I've have never thought of beets and seafood going together. I persevered though, as I was determined to try every recipe in this cleanse, and I was having fun trying recipes that I normally would have passed over because they sounded boring, or were something that I knew Ron wouldn't eat. Luckily, this recipe proved to be a winner. The combination of the mild fish, the sweet beets, and the spinach proved to be a really tasty combination! I used cod in place of halibut due to price, but any similar fish would do. I served this over brown rice because I wanted my meal to be a little more substantial, but you could serve it without any accompaniment, or serve it with any other whole grain. I imagine it would go well with quinoa, or farro, or whatever whole grain you happen to have on hand.

Halibut with Roasted Beets
Serves 1

2 cups chopped spinach (or Kale or Swiss Chard)
1/2 cup roasted beets, diced*
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 5-oz skinless halibut filet (or similar fish such as cod, flounder, sole or tilapia)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking dish, toss together the spinach, beets, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Whisk together the mustard and olive oil in a small bowl. Season the fish with salt and pepper, lay the fish on the beets and greens, and spread the mustard mixture on top of the fish. Cover with foil and bake 20-25 min until fish is cooked through.
3. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

*To roast beets, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets in foil. Then roast for about an hour, until tender. Let cool off, and then dice.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa

Another of my favorites from week 2 of the Whole Living Action Plan, these roasted vegetables were so filling and flavorful! Seriously guys, this dish was so good! I love butternut squash and Brussels sprouts already, and roasting them is definitely the way to go, but tossing them with smoked paprika gives the vegetables another amazing layer of flavor. Smoked paprika has to be one of my favorite spices ever, but I don't cook with it nearly enough. The sauce that is mixed with this dish, and then served on top is also a wonderful thing! Who would have thought the combination of tahini, apple cider vinegar and some herbs could be so wonderful. I love all those flavors separately, but I never would have thought to put them together. Definitely a winning dish!

Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa
Serves 2

3 cups butternut squash, diced
2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup cooked Quinoa
2 1/2 cups baby spinach, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and on the baking sheet toss together the butternut squash, olive oil or coconut oil, salt, pepper. and smoked paprika. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown.
2. To make the sauce, add the garlic, tahini, vinegar, olive oil, water, chives, parsley and cilantro to a food processor. Pulse together until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Toss the roasted vegetables, Quinoa and 2 Tbsp of the sauce together in a large bowl.
4. To serve, toss each serving with 1 1/4 cups baby spinach. Drizzle with remaining sauce, to taste.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Smoked Paprika previously: Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Black Bean-Brown Rice Patties

Happy weekend everyone! I hope spring has started well for you all.  It's still quite cold here in CT and it'll be a few weeks more before we actually start feeling any spring-like weather, but for now I'm enjoying the lengthening of days and searching for signs of buds and shoots pushing up from the earth. It looks like we possibly might have snow on Monday, and honesty, that doesn't bother me at all. That's just one of the things I expect from living in New England. The snow this winter has not burnt me out yet! 

These patties are a wonderful light, but hearty meal, that are one of my top contenders for my favorite recipe of the cleanse. I served mine with romaine lettuce drizzled with olive oil and lime juice, with some buttery avocado and cilantro on top. I didn't even miss having a bun for these patties. The only issue was that they were a bit dry, so maybe next time I'd add a little bit more oil, or possibly bake them a bit less.  Regardless of this though, they were fabulous!

Black Bean-Brown Rice Patties

Makes 6 Patties (Serves 2-3)

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cup cooked brown rice (For reference, 1/2 cup uncooked rice will yield about 1 1/2 cups cooked rice)
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp flaxmeal
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add all ingredients to food processor, and pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt.
3. Form 6 patties, about 1-inch thick. Place patties on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake about 20-minutes, until the tops are crisp and golden.

You can serve these plain if you'd like, but they are fabulous with a few extras- some ideas: lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lime.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

I wanted to share with you one more of my favorite meals from week 1 of the Whole Living 2013 Action Plan. This red lentil and sweet potato stew is so flavorful and exciting it is hard to believe that it is incredibly healthy for you. Full of fragrant spices, sweet peppers and sweet potatoes, and those wonderful red lentils, this is something I see myself making time and time again. It was one of my favorite meals of the whole cleanse. Speaking of- I completed it this past Saturday! It was a wonderful experience and something I could see myself doing once a year! That said, I did indulge in pretty much everything that was off-limits on Sunday. I probably should have eased back in to eating gluten, dairy, meat, sugar, and coffee, but I couldn't help myself!  I needed that large coffee, bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, and those chocolate stout cupcakes! I do plan on keeping up with the healthy eating most of the time however, with only occasional splurge meals.

I'll definitely be sharing a few more of my favorite meals from the Action Plan, so stay tuned!  And then, once I update you on those healthy recipes I want to share with you the recipe for the chocolate stout cupcakes I made for St. Patrick's Day (aka the BEST chocolate cupcakes in the world), and also a recipe for an awesome Buffalo Chicken Salad.

One more thing I wanted to share- my best friend (who I did this cleanse with, and whose Maid of Honor I'll be in her November wedding) just started her own blog, Living Life Brightly, and would love for you to check it out! She has a great write-up on her experience with the Whole Living Action Plan over there!

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew
Serves 4

2 Tbsp coconut or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 large onion, diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed
6 cups cleansing broth or vegetable broth
Fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Over medium heat, heat oil in a large pot. Add cumin, turmeric and curry powder and cook about 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add onion and a few pinches of salt, and cook about 6 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic and ginger and cook about 2 minutes, until tender, stirring frequently. Add sweet potatoes and red bell peppers, and cook for a minute.
2. Add lentils and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro.

Source: Whole Living Magazine, January/February 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Roasted Beets on Greens

My mom always says that when I was a baby I LOVED beets. I have to laugh when I think about how much of a mess I must have made trying to eat beets- the stains that must have resulted from that! Nowadays I still love beets, but it is so rare that I actually eat them.

Ron is so picky about vegetables that I pretty much stick to those he'll eat- lettuce, peppers, onions, cucumbers, mushrooms (I know- not technically a vegetable)... This is another reason that I've been enjoying this detox- I actually have a reason to buy vegetables I don't usually purchase, and it has also allowed me to make some things for myself that I wouldn't ordinarily have made, as I try to cook things that Ron will eat as well. This has allowed me to discover some really great recipes, and also has inspired me to seek out more variation in meals (such as lunch) that I am only cooking for myself.

These roasted beets on green were great! At first glance I did not think this recipe would satisfy me, but the amount of food is deceptive. I also was a little leery of using the fennel seeds and caraway seeds in the vinaigrette as they are not (or at least I thought they weren't) my favorite flavors, but I ended up loving the flavors in this. I had this as a lunch the first week of the detox, but it could also work as a side dish to a more substantial main dish if you cut down the portions.

Roasted Beets on Greens
Serves 4 (as a main)

2 bunches beets, trimmed
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby spinach, divided
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, divided
Thinly sliced red onion

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap beet in tinfoil, and roast for about an hour, until tender. Remove from oven, let cool, and then peel the beets and dice them.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, fennel, and caraway seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the beets to the bowl, and toss together.
3. To serve, toss each serving of beets with 1 cup of baby spinach and 1/4 cup of parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with slices of red onion.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cauliflower "Rice" Stir-Fry

Wow! I really didn't mean to go so long without posting! Time is speeding by, and I just can't keep up with it. How is it already March?!  Soon buds will be sprouting on the trees, flowers will be blooming, I'll be able to open the windows in my apartment, and I'll be able to go outside without a coat. It's insane how time is speeding by.

Anyway.... As I mentioned in one of my last posts, my best friend and I decided to do the Whole Living Cleanse as a healthy living challenge and we are currently about 2/3 into it! It's been hard at times (the beginning especially), but really good! I'm definitely feeling healthier and have even dropped a few pounds! The cleanse has you omit certain things from your diet- dairy, gluten, meat, processed foods, added sugar, alcohol and coffee. The things I'm struggling the most with are not drinking coffee, and my cravings for salty things and carbs. I really haven't been craving sugar at all, and I'm doing fine without the meat and dairy. This cleanse has made me realize just how much mindless snacking I do in my everyday life- I realize that I just reach for a handful of this here, and a handful of that there and it really adds up, so I think this cleanse has been great as it has made me be mindful of what enters my body. I can definitely see myself keeping up with this way of eating in some capacity when it is finished. Limiting my intake of processed foods and added sugars especially. I will definitely be getting a cup of coffee as soon as this is done however- I think the research on the benefits of coffee supports me on that too :)

So doing this cleanse has definitely been not quite as hard as it could be due to the mostly delicious recipes it has encompassed. I wanted to share some of my favorites here, but go to the website for the remainder!!  My favorite of the first week was this cauliflower "rice" stir-fry. I loved using the cauliflower as a rice substiiute! I've seen this done, but have never tried it myself. Of course it doesn't taste quite like rice, but it is super delicious and if you looking at lowering your carb intake, this is a great way to do it.

Cauliflower "Rice" Stir-Fry
Serves 2

2 cups cauliflower florets
2 Tbsp coconut or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 sliced red onion, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
Coarse salt
1/4 cup cleansing broth, or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 small red chile, thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp shelled pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

1. In a food processor pulse cauliflower florets until finely chopped.
2. In a large skillet, heat one Tbsp of oil over medium heat. Add half of the onion and half of the garlic, and cook about 6 minutes, until tender, stirring frequently. Add cauliflower. Season with salt. Add broth, and place cover on pan. Steam about 6 minutes until the cauliflower is tender, and the broth has evaporated. Remove to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
3. Wipe out pan, and add remaining oil. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add remaining onion, and cook about 5 minutes until tender. Add remaining garlic, ginger, and chile, and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, carrot and red pepper, and cook about 5 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt.
4. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
5. When serving, sprinkle pumpkin seeds and cilantro on top of the stir-fry.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I bet that chicken soup is a comfort food for a huge number of people out there, and rightfully so in my opinion.  It's something many of us associate with childhood, and our mothers. It's something I crave in the winter, and especially when I'm under the weather. I made this soup a few weeks ago when I was nursing a seemingly never-ending cold. One that seems to have finally gone away- I'd like to attribute that to this soup! This is my favorite quick and easy version of chicken soup. It is from the wonderful cookbook Fresh Flavor Fast, which comes from the people over at Everyday Food, one of my most favorite cooking magazines that unfortunately is no longer a standalone magazine. That magazine, this cookbook, and the other two in this series- Great Food Fast and Everyday Food: Light, I seem to turn to again and again for reliable and delicious weeknight meals. This soup comes together relatively quickly, uses some shortcuts such as store-bought chicken broth, but cooks in such a way that imparts it with so much flavor. Sauteing the onions and poaching the chicken in the chicken broth really work to make this soup so flavorful.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
32-oz low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup wild-rice blend
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 oz), or 8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast 
4 carrots, coarsely chopped
4 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot, preferably a dutch oven. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until onion starts to soften, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, rice, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 35 minutes.
2. Add chicken, carrots, and celery. Return soup to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Remove the chicken, and shred.
3. Return the shredded chicken to the pot, and season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions

Whelp, remember when I said that I was hoping for a snowy winter?  Looks like I got my wish, plus some!  As I'm sure everybody know, Connecticut got a gigantic storm over the weekend, starting Friday morning, and ending Saturday morning.  We got about 3 feet of snow! That's the most I've ever seen in one shot. I couldn't even see my car when the storm was done, and we were stranded in our apartment for a few days. Luckily we never lost power, and so we were able to stay inside all warm and cozy, with an excuse to be totally lazy. We did get outside and shovel, which was extremely exhausting, and my arms feel dead now because of it, but other than that, this was the perfect time to just relax. As I am a hoarder of food, we had no problem keeping ourselves well-fed. We even decided to risk salmonella poisoning, and made a batch of cookie dough and no cookies. Here's to snow!

So this is something I cooked last week before the blizzard hit. It's the second recipe I've made from Deb Perelman's wonderful cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. (The other was her flat-roasted chicken with tiny potatoes- something I will be making again and I will make sure I share it with you were when I do.) Her blog is one of the best out there, and I urge you to check it out! Ron got me her cookbook for Christmas, and over vacation I read the entire thing, front to back. I am now slowly working my way through the archives of her blog. I love her writing, and reading both the cookbook and her blog make me feel like I'm sitting right there with her in her tiny kitchen listening to a good friend tell me a story.

I made this frittata for dinner and Ron and I devoured it! I busted out my cast-iron skillet to cook this, and as I did, I resolved to not fear this skillet. I don't know why, but cooking with cast-iron really intimidates me. I decided that I have to get over this once and for all, especially since this frittata turned out so beautifully in it. This frittata reminds me of another dish I love, Ina Garten's Omelet for Two, from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa at Home. I love that recipe and that cookbook. I don't think I've ever made an Ina Garten recipe that I've disliked! While that omelet (which really is more of a fritatta also), uses cheddar cheese and diced potatoes, this one uses feta cheese and sliced potatoes. Other than that they are very similar and are both awesome! I'll post that recipe soon.

Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions
Serves 4 (as a dinner) or 6-8 as a breakfast

3 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-1/2-inch slices, and then into half-circles
1/2 tsp table salt, plus more for roasting potatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound bacon, thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 bunch (3-4) scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2/3 cup (3 oz) crumbled feta cheese
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp milk or cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet or roasting pan with 1-2 Tbsp of oil. Place the potatoes, on the pan, and season with salt and pepper. (They do not all have to be in one layer). Roast about 30 minutes until the potatoes are mostly cooked through, tossing halfway. Remove from oven, and let cool down a bit.
2. Place a cast-iron or other 9-inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat, and cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Add the remainder of the oil to the skillet with the bacon drippings (1 Tbsp), and reheat on medium. Make sure you swirl the oil and drippings around in the skillet to coat the sides of the pan.
3. Place the potatoes in the skillet, browned side up. Then sprinkle on the bacon, scallions and feta.
4. Whisk together your eggs and milk, adding 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the potatoes.
5. Cover your skillet with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the eggs are set in the center, and the edges have puffed up.

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Artichoke and Basil Bruschetta

This weekend my Grandmother and I celebrated our birthdays! I still have 2 weeks until I reach the milestone age of 30, but since I can remember we've always celebrated our birthdays together, as they are so close together. Hers is the 2nd and mine, the 17th. This year we are both celebrating big birthdays- my 30th as I said, and her 80th!! It was a great party- lots of delicious food (of which I unfortunately got no pictures). We had a surf and turf feast- London broil, seafood chowder, paella, oysters... It was all delicious! We had cheesecake and a chocolate-hazelnut cake to finish the evening.

I brought an appetizer- this artichoke and basil bruschetta! I made it in the summer for a birthday party and loved it so much I just had to make it again, and then I had to make more for a light dinner tonight as I didn't eat my fill yesterday! This is such an easy appetizer to make- the assembly is the only thing that takes a little time, but it is so worth it. This comes from one of my favorite blogs- Shutterbean- go check it out if you haven't heard of it! And if you are into podcasts, I heartily recommend the Joy the Baker Podcast, which Tracy from Shutterbean and Joy the Baker of course do. It's hilarious, sometimes informative, and always entertaining!

Artichoke and Basil Bruschetta
Makes about 20

1 Baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
10-20 Basil leaves
20 shavings of Parmesan cheese
Fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet, and brush with olive oil. Bake about 5-10 minutes until lightly crispy. 
2. When the slices are toasted, remove from oven, let cool slightly, and then rub with a garlic clove.
3. To assemble, spread each baguette slice with about 1/2 tablespoon ricotta, then lay on a basil leaf (if large, tear in half), then an artichoke heart (again, if large, can be halved), then a shaving of Parmesan. Squeeze a little lemon juice on each bruschetta, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Taco Seasoning

Tacos make me happy. They are one of my desert island foods- ya know, if taco shells, tortillas, and all the fillings grew on islands! I love the traditional ones, the fancy ones, and the exotic ones- like the grasshopper tacos I ate last year at Oyamel in Washington, DC. So, so good!  Also delicious- these green chile chicken soft tacos. I need to make those again soon!

I love tacos so much that when I get married eventually I have decided that I really, really, really want a taco bar at my wedding! They are so customizable- whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc, I think that a taco can work for everyone. You don't even need a tortilla to enjoy something taco-like- a taco bowl is super-delicious as well. Check out this article on Serious Eats showing just how many types of tacos are out there!!

This won't be a post about how to make a taco, but rather be a recipe for homemade taco seasoning. I love those convenient little packets as much as the next guy, but making a homemade version is just so easy. All the spices that go into the seasoning are staples in my pantry, so there is no reason not to! There are a bunch of versions for homemade seasoning, all of which I'd like to try, but the one I used this time was great, so I figured I'd jot it down here for you, and so that I remember which ones I've tried. I figure someday I'll eventually have a favorite that I use consistently.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Makes about 2 3/4 Tbsps

1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

1. Mix together all the ingredients in a small container.
2. To season filling, use about 2 tbsp per pound of ground meat, Use more or less to taste. Add the desired amount of seasoning and 1/2 cup of water to the browned meat, and simmer until the water is absorbed.

Source: Allrecipes via The Girl Who Ate Everything

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pork Milanese

I've had Giada de Laurentis's cookbook Everyday Italian for years now, but haven't really made much out of it unfortunately, through no fault of the cookbook. That's definitely a problem I have- I buy these awesome cookbooks, make maybe one or two recipes, and then never venture further.  I really need to work on this, because there are so many amazing sounding recipes in all my cookbooks that I'd love to make. I need to be like Julie from Julie & Julia, and cook every recipe out of a cookbook or something.  Maybe I need to make a goal to cook 1 or 2 recipes a week from an actual cookbook. I get so many food magazines, and read so many blogs, that I have a pretty much unlimited supply of recipes to choose from, and it seems like sometimes the cookbooks get lost in the shuffle. Sad, because they are pretty much the books that I love best.

Anyway.... this pork was awesome!! As I mentioned in my last post, this is one of the best pork dishes I have ever personally made. The breading that coats the pork was so flavorful, and I think it would adapt well to swapping in chicken for the pork, if pork is not your thing.  It's shallow-fried, which is definitely not as intimidating as deep-frying, and only left a slight lingering smell of oil- one of my biggest turn-offs for frying things in my home.  I definitely recommend giving this recipe a try.  I know I'll be making it again!!

Pork Milanese
Serves 4

1/3 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
4 8-ounce center-cut pork chops (about 1-inch thick)
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges

1. Place the flour in a wide shallow dish, such as a pie plate. Place the beaten eggs in another wide, shallow dish. In a third wide, shallow dish, mix together the breadcrumb, Parmesan cheese, basil, and thyme.
2. Place the pork chops between two pieces of plastic wrap, or in a large storage bag, and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin, until the pork is 1/4 inch thick. Season the pork chops on each side with salt and pepper (about 1 tsp of each for the four pork chops).
3. Dredge each pork chop (one at a time), first in the flour, then in the egg (let excess drip off), then in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the mixture on gently. Place the pork chops, in a single layer, on a baking sheet.  (These can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead. Just cover and refridgerate until ready to cook.)
4. Preheat oven to warm (150 degrees, or as close as possible- the lowest my oven goes is to 200 degrees), and line a baking sheet with a rack.
5. Melt butter and oil together in a large saute pan with high sides over medium heat, until hot. Cook the pork chops, 2 at a time, about 3 minutes per side, until light golden brown. Transfer the cooked pork chops to the prepared baking sheet and season with more salt to taste. Place in the oven to keep warm, and repeat the process with the other 2 pork chops.
6. Serve the pork chops with the lemon wedges on the side. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pork chops if desired.

Monday, January 21, 2013


1. It's snowing out right now! I might be one of the only people who actually looks forward to snow. I always feel guilty showing how excited I am when the flakes start to fall as snow is my boyfriend's least favorite thing, but I think it is just so magical!! We are only supposed to get a little bit tonight- 3 inches max, but I always keep my fingers crossed that we get more than the estimate. I want a snowy winter this year, not a lame winter like last year, it has already been better, but still hasn't been enough for me. Don't tell Ron :)

2. There is less than a month to go until I turn 30, which is so scary! I waver between not caring at all, and mentally freaking out about this. I just feel so young still. I thought that by the time I turned 30 I would have things figured out and feel like an adult, but that doesn't seem to be the case. At least I'm more mature than I was as a 20 year old!

3. My best friend and I are going to be doing the 21 day detox in the January issue of Whole Living!! Starting after my birthday of course. I've never done a detox before, but this one sounds like its actually doable for me. You can eat real foods, and a good amount of food too, unlike one of those juice cleanses. Not that I'm knocking those, it's just something that realistically I don't think I would be successful at. I just LOVE to eat too much. This detox has you eliminate some things- processed foods, added sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol and coffee, but you can still eat fruits. veggies, nuts, and later on seafood, eggs and tofu. I don't think it'll be easy- especially giving up coffee for three weeks, but I believe I can do it. At least I'll be able to drink tea still.  I'll update you further later on in February!

4. So I saw something on Pinterest about paying yourself a dollar for each day you workout as a motivator. I think I'm going to put this into practice. When you reach your monetary goal, you can treat yourself to something you've been wanting. I think it'll help motivate me to get to the gym on those days I feel like slacking. Sometimes you just need a tangible goal to reach.

5. I went out to breakfast twice this weekend and it was the best! I love sitting down to a delicious, leisurely breakfast. Saturday my best friend and I had breakfast in a diner, and I had awesome French toast with a side of bacon. On Sunday, Ron and I went to breakfast at a little place close to us in CT where I got a mushroom, spinach and cheddar omelet with homefries and homemade toast. It was so wonderful. The unlimited coffee never hurts either :)

6. Last week I made tacos, a couple of chicken and veggie stir-fries, a chicken fajita bowl (so yummy I didn't even miss the tortilla), and then today I made pork Milanese using a Giada de Laurentis recipe. It was probably one of the best pork dishes I have ever personally cooked! I'll post recipes for these meals this week!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sweet Potato Latkes

After eating the same thing for dinner three nights in a row, I really needed a change. Since I've been trying to use up what is in my pantry, and Ron has been working the last three nights, I ended up making very simple cheese and jalapeño quesadillas with rice and beans for myself for the past few nights. Very yummy, but even quesadillas get old after having the same kind three days in a row, I suppose.

So for this dinner I needed something vastly different using ingredients I had in the pantry. I had a few sweet potatoes that I really wanted to use, and so after searching through some of my favorite blogs for ideas, I came upon these sweet potato latkes on Eat, Live, Run. Just a few staple ingredients, a little mixing together, a little frying, and bam, done. I don't generally like to fry things in my kitchen, but because you only need a little bit of oil for these, that wasn't a problem. I ate them with a little bit of pure maple syrup on top and they were so satisfying! I guess you probably would normally serve these as breakfast or as a side dish to a meal, but since it was just me, I decided to just make these my main dish and eat a simple salad on the side. I will definitely be making these again! I also would love to experiment with these a bit too- I'm thinking chipotle sweet potato latkes... And I also really need to make traditional potato latkes sometime as well.

Sweet Potato Latkes
Makes about 8 latkes

2 small to medium sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Canola oil, for frying
Maple syrup, optional

1. In a large bowl, mix together the shredded potatoes, eggs, flour, salt and cinnamon. 
2. Add about a tbsp of canola oil to a large skillet, and heat over medium-high heat.  When hot, using wet hands, form your latkes, and place in skillet.  (This will probably take you two batches- four latkes per batch). Fry about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Repeat with remaining latkes.
3. Serve warm. Drizzle with maple syrup if desired!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Green Monster Smoothie

Did you know that the term Green Monster was coined by Angela over at Oh She Glows?  I didn't know that until this week when I was researching different Green Monster smoothie-type drinks.  I've been reading Oh She Glows for a while, and I found this news to be very exciting!  It's the small things that excite me- Dunkin' Donuts, a good burger, a basket of kittens, you know, the usual!

I've been very curious about these green drinks for a while, and because I'm really working on sticking to my New Year's resolutions of eating well, and exercising, I figured it was the perfect time to try one of these out. I am so happy to say that I loved my green monster.  There are a lot of variations of this smoothie, and I'm sure that I'll be experimenting with them frequently, but my very first try was awesome!  You can really barely taste the spinach- I think there is a very slight hint of something green, but except for the green color, I think you'd be hard-pressed to pinpoint it if you didn't know what was in this. Me?  I don't mind the green color at all- after all, it is my favorite color.

Green Monster Spinach Smoothie
Serves 1

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup 0% vanilla Greek yogurt
1 banana, sliced, and preferably frozen
1 tbsp peanut butter
2-4 cups baby spinach
Ice, optional (I use about 3 ice cubes in mine)

1. Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth.
2. Drink your greens :)

Source: Iowa Girl Eats and Oh She Glows

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lemon Chicken

So another food item that my boyfriend Ron and I recieved from his grandparents for Christmas were boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I was psyched about this because they are just so versatile! They are one of the staple grocery list items that I buy pretty much every week. I know that some people aren't big fans because they can be boring and dry, but I really believe that if cooked well, and paired with yummy flavors, that they are the best!

Now, because I've made it a priority to clean out my freezer, fridge and pantry, I wanted to choose a recipe that I didn't have to buy a million ingredients for, and use what I had already. This Lemon Chicken recipe is something I had bookmarked forever ago that uses very few, and simple ingredients, but packs a really nice flavor punch.  I loved it!  It was pretty light, which is perfect for my healthy eating resolution, was really nice and simple for a weeknight dinner, and was super yummy!  If you like lemon, you'll like this chicken!

Lemon Chicken
Serves 4

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6 oz each)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 lemon slices
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1. Place your chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, or in a gallon-size ziplock bag, and pound them until 1/4-inch thick.
2. Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess.
3. Heat a large, nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tbsp butter, and olive oil to the pan.  When the butter is melted, add your chicken.  Cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until the chicken is browned, and cooked through. Remove chicken to a platter, and tent with foil.
4. Reduce heat to medium.  Add chicken broth and lemon juice. Cook 1-2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the lemon slices, and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from heat, add the remaining butter and the parsley.  Stir together until the butter has melted.
5. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and garnish with the lemon slices, or do like I did and return the chicken to the pan, flipping the chicken over once to coat with the sauce, and place the lemon slices on top of the chicken.

Source: Southern Living and via Tracey's Culinary Adventures

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Skillet Pork Chops and Rice with Parsley Butter

I don't cook with pork much (other than bacon, of course).  It's not that I dislike it, but it is something I'm not confident cooking. This turns into a continuous circle because how will I ever become more comfortable cooking with pork if I never even try?!

For Christmas, my boyfriend's grandparents gave us a great gift of food from the Omaha Steak Company, including some boneless pork chops. This was the perfect opportunity to increase my level of confidence!  Aren't gifts of food awesome?!

This recipe was very simple and tasty! I especially liked the way the rice came out with this method of cooking.  Why don't I cook my rice in chicken broth more often?!

Skillet Pork Chops and Rice with Parsley Butter
Serves 4

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and divided
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
2 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup long-grain white rice
4 (6 to 8 oz) boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme

1. Stir together the parsley and 2 tbsp butter in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Combine the rice and 1 cup of chicken broth in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 6-7 minutes, or until broth is absorbed. Watch out when you remove this from the microwave- it will be HOT!  As will the steam when you open the plastic wrap!
3. Meanwhile, dry the pork with paper towels, and cut two slits about 2 inches apart in the fat cap on the outside edges of the pork chops- this will help them stay flat as they are cooking, instead of curling up. Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper.
4. Heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of butter. When it's melted, and the pan is hot, add the pork chops.  Brown the pork chops on each side- about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove the pork chops once browned to a plate, and tent them with foil.
5. Add the remaining tbsp of butter to the skillet.  When melted, add the onion and cook 6-7 minutes until browned. Add the garlic and thyme and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
6. To the skillet, add the rice and the remaining 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Nestle the pork chops into the rice, add any accumulated juice as well, lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for 10-14 minutes, until the broth is absorbed into the rice and the pork chops are fully cooked.
7. When serving, top the pork chops with parsley butter.

Source: Cook's Country, Aug/Sept 2011, via Tracey's Culinary Adventures

Friday, January 11, 2013

Lately I've Been...

Lately I've been thinking of how I need to stop neglecting my little blog here! I've been cooking and cooking and cooking but am always so concerned about trying to get a good picture of my food that I get frustrated and end up not blogging at all. I've decided to relax and not stress about the perfection of the pictures (since I'm still a very beginner photographer, although that's something that I really do want to work on), and the perfection of what to say about the recipe, and so on and so forth. I just want to enjoy this space, be able to record a good recipe, and also be able to use this space as a place to talk about other things that are going on in my life- things I'm enjoying lately, books I'm reading, things I'm obsessing about on Pinterest, etc. I just want to be a little more relaxed in general.

So that said, here are some things I've been doing recently.

1. Reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for my book club and loving it so far!! I'm all for suspense and thrillers so I'm super excited about this pick and I've read so many good things about this book!

2. Trying to put some of my Pinterest pins into action (if you are on Pinterest and want to follow me, you can find me at My first project was inspired by a few coffee bar pins. I thought this was a great idea and perfect for me because I love coffee, and I had a perfect spot for this in my kitchen already! It never occurred to me before that I didn't have to have my coffee maker on my counters! Not only does it look much better, it saves counter space! It is still a work in progress, but it's getting there! Oh... Also, I finally got a magnetic knife rack!! I've been wanting this forever! My boyfriend and I went to ikea on New Year's Eve and finally bought one! I also bought some nice, plain white dishes! Such a bargain :)

3.I'm starting to work out regularly again after the laziness of the holiday season! One of my New Year's resolutions is to work out at least 3 times a week. So far I met my goal last week, and as long as I work out tomorrow, I will have met it this week as well! Today I ran for 2.5 miles (at 6 mph)! It was hard, but I did it and I feel so proud of myself! Now that I have an iPhone it is even better to run because I can listen to Pandora radio! Today I listened to Cold-Hearted Snake radio- Paula Abdul, Madonna and Janet Jackson all made appearances! Also, I made a Green Monster for the first time last weekend to have after my workout... I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, vanilla Greek yogurt, banana, peanut butter and spinach. I loved it!!

4. This week my menu consisted of Skillet Pork Chops and Rice with Parsley Butter, Mushroom Bacon Swiss Burgers with Curly Fries, Lemon Chicken with Potatoes au Gratin and Dirty Risotto! There wasn't a bad recipe in the bunch, but my favorite was probably the burgers... What can I say? I love a good burger!

5. I tried Panera's new big kid grilled cheese last weekend! Soooo good! How can you go wrong with three types of cheese and bacon. Yum!!!!

I hope you enjoyed this little update! I have a feeling the blog is going to be more like this in the future. Don't worry though! Recipes will be included still :). I will post those soon!