Monthly Archives: August 2011

Working on my mussels

Standard
Working on my mussels

For the past few days, I have kind of been on an eating “vacation.” I had a friend visiting who was on vacation and it was easier to eat out than to cook; it was more fun to eat burgers and pizza than it was to watch my diet. But my friend left yesterday and although I will miss her, my diet is much improved now that I am cooking again. Today has been a pretty healthy day! I had Greek yogurt and blueberries for breakfast; a turkey wrap for lunch; and mussels for dinner. I am pretty proud of myself 🙂

Onto the healthy recipes!

Chipotle Turkey Wrap

Adapted from a recipe by College Girl Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 wrap

  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle spreadable cheese

  • 4 pieces turkey
  • 1 handful green-leaf lettuce
  • 1 small handful matchstick carrots
  • ½ tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Optional: drizzle of olive oil vinaigrette

Directions:

1)  Heat wrap in microwave for 15-30 seconds.

2) Spread Laughing Cow cheese on warmed wrap.

Add hot sauce on top of cheese.

3) Lay 4 pieces of turkey on wrap, overlapping; leave about ½” space between end of turkey and edge of wrap

.

4) Top with cilantro,

lettuce,

carrots, and drizzle with olive oil vinaigrette.

5) Fold the wrap like a burrito: start by rolling the edge closest to you over the filling (make sure this is tight!)

Fold in the right side

and then the left.

Cut in half and serve.

Notes/Review: I saw this recipe on College Girl Cooking (via Foodgawker) and I was attracted to it for a few reasons. The simplicity of it was, of course, very appealing but I was especially excited about trying it because I love the Laughing Cow spreadable cheeses. While my favorite is the original light cheese, I also liked the sundried tomato and I have been eying the queso fresco flavor. I’m also tired of salads for lunch so a salad wrap sounded tasty. And guess what? It was! I added the extra ingredients (hot sauce, cilantro, carrots) because I had them in the fridge and I wanted to add a little more spunk to the wrap. We chose Hot! Ocean Deck Rasta Sauce because it is smoky and garlicky and peppery. It went well with the chipotle cheese and the rest of the wrap. Avocado would have been an awesome addition (I might try that tomorrow!); red/green pepper or cucumber would also be nice. You really can customize the ingredients to your taste preferences; I recommend keeping the turkey/cheese/cilantro/hot sauce to keep the tasty flavor intact. Overall it was a really healthy lunch and very tasty! 4 stars

For dinner, The Boyfriend and I have been wanting to make mussels for a few days so we finally bought them and cooked them in a curry and lime broth.

Mussels with Coconut Curry Lime Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Verses from my Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • ½ Serrano pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 2 pounds mussels, washed/scrubbed/debearded
  • Small handful chopped cilantro

Directions:

1) Melt the butter in a large wok over medium heat; add in the shallots and garlic and cook for one minute.

2) Add in the curry paste and the thickened top half of the coconut milk and stir for another minute.

3) Pour in the rest of the coconut milk along with the beer, vinegar, lime juice, green chili and ginger. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

4) Add the mussels and increase heat until a low boil starts. Cover the pot and boil softly for about 8 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened up.

5) Place mussels in bowls and pour sauce over top. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Notes on the mussels: Since The Boyfriend and I usually keep beer in the house, we swapped the wine in the recipe for the beer that we already have. I recommend using a lighter-colored beer; we just used an inexpensive beer from our local grocery store. The flavor of the beer is very apparent in the recipe so make sure you pick a beer that you enjoy. The original recipe did not specify a type of curry paste or a type of pepper; we hit up our local Asian food store to buy the curry paste. Please don’t buy name-brand, mainstream curry paste: the flavor is always weak, diluted, and not even close to authentic. The brand we normally buy is MAESRI; they sell a variety of types of curry paste and we’ve been able to find them in several Asian supercenters. We picked green curry because the ingredients sounded the closest to the flavors in this recipe; we bought the Serrano pepper for the same reason.

Mussels review: We gave this recipe a solid 4 stars. The broth was tasty and nicely accented by the cilantro; the spice level was appropriate; and the mussels themselves were soft and tender. We are going to freeze all of the leftover broth and make shrimp curry with it in a few weeks. Yum!

Curried Grilled Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp Badia curry powder
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: ½ tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

1) Whisk all of the sauce ingredients (except lemon juice) together in a bowl until combined; set aside.

2) Wash zucchini and squash; halve both vegetables and slice into thin (1/8”) pieces.

3) Using a pastry brush and liberally brush both sides of every slice of squash and zucchini.

4) Grill veggies about 4 minutes per side.

5) Add lemon juice to veggies and serve.

Notes: If you are like me and don’t have a pastry brush, you can use your hands to spread the sauce on the veggies; it’s a little messy but it gets the job done. We did not put any brown sugar in the sauce and it was still tasty; I just thought that a little sweetness would have been given the sauce some nice depth.

Review: The squash was solidly good but not terribly exciting; for that reason, I gave it 3 stars (out of 5). I enjoyed the squash (and The Boyfriend ate it, which is great because he isn’t a squash fan) but I have made other squash recipes that I like better (remember Cannibalistic Squash? Now that is a “Wow!” squash recipe).

The Boyfriend and I shared a side salad and some tasted and buttered sourdough bread, in addition to the mussels and squash. Overall, we both gave the meal a solid 4 stars; I was quite happy with the balance of flavors and textures that this meal presented.

Ok so end-of-blog question time: what’s your favorite indulgent, so-bad-it’s-bad food?

Barbacoa? I hardly know ya!

Standard
Barbacoa? I hardly know ya!

Today’s post is all about ease and I cannot think of an easier recipe than pork barbacoa (barbacoa is Mexican-style barbeque). Really, cooking anything in a crock pot pretty much guarantees minimal work on your part and this recipe in particular is way easy: it has less than 10 ingredients and only 2 of those ingredients require any prep work. So start this cookin’ in your crock pot before you head off to work and reap the benefits of sweet, spicy, succulent pork that will be waiting for you when you get home.

Pork Barbacoa
From a recipe adapted from Joelen’s Blogspot

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 pound pork roast
  • 5-8 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 12 oz bottle Valentina hot sauce
  • 20 oz Coke
  • Water

Directions:

1) Chop the garlic cloves and slice the onion.

2) Place pork roast in a crock pot; add garlic and onion.

3) Add water halfway to crock pot to halfway cover roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

4) Drain water and add remaining ingredients. Cook 4-6 more hours on low.

5) Remove pork from crock pot and shred with forks (or fingers!)

This recipe is a favorite with The Boyfriend and I because of its simplicity and versatility. We made tacos with it for dinner tonight (tortillas, pork, avocado, lime juice, and cilantro) and we could make burritos with it (perhaps with cilantro rice, black beans, and pico de gallo?), nachos (with queso and cilantro and black olives), or sandwiches (with avocado, cilantro, and melted mozzarella). A 5-6 lb roast will feed two people for a full week so if you are okay with reinventing leftovers, this is an economical purchase. We buy the Valentina black label which is spicier than their red label sauce. If you’re not a fan of heat, go for the red label or switch the Valentina for another Mexican hot sauce that is too your liking.

The tacos we made: pork, cilantro, avocado, and lime juice. Yum!!
Yes, The Boyfriend is wearing swim goggles. We both have an aversion to onion fumes and when we found my old goggles (from my high school swim team!), we decided to implement them in the kitchen. FYI: they work supremely well.

This pork is going to pop-up in the next few blog posts so keep an eye out!

Vegetarian crispy potato tacos

Standard
Vegetarian crispy potato tacos

I am trying to cook (and post) more vegetarian recipes; it is good for me and The Boyfriend to eat less meat and I’d also like to accommodate vegetarian readers. I think it is fair to expect at least 1 vegetarian (or vegetarian-friendly) recipe per week.

I’m sure you know (or can guess) that eating less meat is beneficial to you health but I didn’t know just how beneficial adopting one meat-free day a week could be! According to Greenjoyment, foregoing meat just one day a week can:

  • Reduce your consumption of saturated fat by 15 percent, lowering risk of diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
  • Lower your body fat, help curb obesity, and, according to a recent study from Imperial College London, prevent long-term weight gain.
  •  If you are eating less meat, it stands to reason that you are eating more vegetables. And by eating veggies, fruits, grains, and legumes on a regular basis, it can:
  • Increase their disease-fighting benefits.
  • Help you lower your intake of saturated fat and total fat by increasing your intake of fiber, protein, zinc, iron and magnesium.

In addition to all of the wonderful health benefits, Meatless Mondays are also great for the planet! By not eating meat just once a week, you:

  • Reduce your carbon footprint!
  • Use less water! Livestock requires far more water than vegetables or grains (1,800-2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef vs. 220 gallons of water per pound of tofu).
  • Reduce use of fossil fuels! On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S, compared to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.
  • Reduce ammonia emission and carbon dioxide emissions since almost 2/3s of the human related ammonia emissions and 9% of human activity related carbon dioxide emissions are due to livestock.
  • Protect wildlife environment: 30% of the Earth’s land that used to be occupied by wildlife is now occupied by livestock.

So many benefits for such a small lifestyle change, right? Without further ado, the recipe:

 Crispy Potato Tacos

Adapted from a recipe at Shop, cook, make

Ingredients:

  • 3 Yukon-gold potatoes
  • ½ white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil OR 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp bacon grease
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Badia Complete Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1.5-2 oz tequila
  • Small tortillas
  • Toppings for tacos (avocado, more cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, etc)

 Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2) Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes.

3) Chop the pepper, onion and garlic; add to chopped potatoes in a bowl.

4) Add the oil(s) and all spices to bowl of ingredients; mix until potatoes/onions/peppers are all evenly covered in oil and spices.

5) Add cilantro and tequila (if using) to mixture; mix again.

6) Cook for 20-25 minutes; turn oven to broil and cook an additional 5-7 until brown and crispy.

So much tasty

Close-up on the crispy potato goodness

I created a toppings station with all of the extras for the tacos:

The Boyfriend added chopped pickled jalapeno and chopped avocado to his tacos; I added lettuce, tomato, and chopped avocado to mine. We also both used a little bit of cilantro, a twist of lemon, and Chalula hot sauce on the tacos. To keep these tacos healthy, neither of us used cheese or sour cream; however we both used a little bit of ranch dressing (well, I used about a teaspoon for both tacos; The Boyfriend used closer to a tablespoon). The combination of the Chalula with the ranch dressing was really great: spicy and creamy, over the smoky flavor and chewy texture of the potatoes. Yum!

The great thing about this dish (besides the flavor) is how versatile it is. These potatoes can be a side dish, served with a fried egg on top for breakfast, or used for a filling in tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. I know this wasn’t strictly vegetarian thanks to the addition of bacon grease but it’s an easy swap to make it friendly for the non-meat eaters. I added the bacon grease mostly because I had it lying around and I’ve been itching to use it for weeks; but if you’ve got it (and feel favorable towards bacon), I recommend it because it really adds a nice smokiness. I also highly recommend the tequila; it was a nice touch. Mmm…

This was The Boyfriend’s favorite recipe this week! Since he is a self-proclaimed carnivore, seeing him rave over the tacos was a pleasant surprise.

Although maybe the reason that The Boyfriend enjoyed this meal also had to do with the margaritas we made…

Beer-liscious Margaritas

For 2 margaritas

Ingredients:

  • 2 shots (3 oz) tequila
  • 2 oz triple sec
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • 6 oz beer
  • Salt, for rim

Directions:

1) Add all ingredients except beer to shake; add ice to shaker and shake until cold.

2) Salt the rim of two martini glasses; divide mixture equally between the two glasses.

3) Fill to the top with beer and enjoy!

Beautiful bubbles!

We may have had more than one a-piece, haha. They are just so darn tasty! We used the super economical (and relatively tasty) Genessee Cream Ale for the beer. I think Corona, Modelo or Dos Equis would have been better but Genessee worked out fine. Baxically you want a light beer that is complimented by lemon or lime. I also recommend making a lot of simple syrup ahead of time (equal parts sugar and boiling water) and just keeping it around for future use in cocktails or sweet tea.

I need some vegetarian recommendations; do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe you can share with me?

PS Did I mention that The Boyfriend brought me flowers? They really brightened my day and my dining room!

Amaretto days and Star Trek nights

Standard
Amaretto days and Star Trek nights

So I’m just going to jump right into the recipes this time!

Amaretto Chicken

Adapted from a recipe at Lol Foodie

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tbsp goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 1/8 cup Amaretto liqueur
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Start by pounding out the chicken breasts. Place a breast in a large Ziploc bag; using a meat hammer (or regular hammer). Pound the chicken until it is very thin, about 1/8″ thick; repeat with other 2 chicken breasts.

2) Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper.

3) Spread each chicken breast half with a little less than 1 tbsp of the softened goat cheese. Top with 1 slice of the prosciutto.

4) Roll the chicken into a tight cylinder; tie with kitchen twine. Dredge each chicken “roll” in flour.

5) Melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat in a skillet (don’t use nonstick).

6) Add the mushrooms; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, and set aside.

7) Add the remaining butter and peanut oil to the skillet (still over medium-high). Once melted, add in the chicken rolls.

8) Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, turning 4 times, for a total of 16 minutes. Remove the chicken to the plate with mushrooms.

9) Add the chicken broth to the skillet; being careful about a flare-up, add the Amaretto.

10) Bring the sauce up to a boil, and stir/scrape to deglaze all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by a third.

11) Return the chicken and mushrooms to the skillet, turning to coat in the sauce and heating through.

No step-by-step pictures again—I’m sorry. But Lol Foodie has wonderful photos that accompany the recipe; if you need help, refer to the original recipe. And ok, yeah, I know this doesn’t sound too healthy: there is liqueur and goat cheese and prosciutto involved for goodness sake! I did modify a few things from the original recipe in the name of health: I decreased the amount of goat cheese (which I would usually frown upon); increased the amount of chicken in the equation (from half a breast to one whole breast per “roll”); and I traded some of the butter for olive oil. In addition, I limited myself to half of a “roll” with my large salad and side of carrots. In other words, it could have been a lot worse.

Did I mention that this was delicious? It was: the outside was so brown and crispy; the inside was moist chicken and creamy goat cheese and smoky, salty prosciutto.

Basil carrots

Adapted from a recipe by Jason and Shawnda

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: feta cheese

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Peel the carrots and halve lengthwise.

3) Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil.

4) Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil; spread carrots on the baking sheet and cover with more foil.

5) Roast for 40 minutes.

6) If desired, add feta cheese to top of carrots before serving.

These were tasty! I decided to roast them the way that I normally do rather than the method suggested in the original recipe. The recipe also suggested thyme, which I didn’t have, so I happily substituted the fresh basil I had on hand.

When I pulled the carrots out of the oven, I thought at first that I had burned them; the ends were black and slightly charred looking. I happily found out that the suspicious black pieces of carrot were just caramelized; they had a great chewy texture and a nice sweet and smoky flavor.

The next day (Sunday) was Star Trek night at our friends’ home; these friends started the weekly tradition and so every Sunday we travel to their house to watch, drink, and watch Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer traverse space and battle foes. I’ve never been a Trekkie but I’m finding that I enjoy Star Trek the more that I watch of it.

Anyway, I really wanted to bring something to our latest gathering because our friends are so nice to host us every week and they usually have snacks and booze for us. And that bring us to snacks! You might see a repeat of a few ingredients from other recipes I used this week and that’s because I like to use what I have in the fridge and cupboards as much as I can; that’s also why I have so many adaptations to recipes that I found online.

Roasted Garlic

Adapted from a recipe at Life’s Ambrosia

Ingredients:

  • 1 bulb (or head) garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut ¼ inch off the top of the bulb of garlic to expose the cloves beneath; do not peel the garlic: you want to roast it in the skin.

3) Place bulb on a piece of aluminum foil; place butter on top of bulb, pour lemon juice over the garlic and sprinkle with salt.

4) Bring up all sides of aluminum foil and twist together to close.

5) Cook for 60 minutes or until garlic cloves are soft and golden in color. Allow to cool.

6) To eat, remove garlic cloves with a fork and spread on top of French bread or good crackers.

If you have never eaten roasted garlic, you are missing out. The flavor is milder, sweeter, and deeper than that of raw or sautéed garlic. It is fantastic with in pasta or on poultry or steak; it is just as great with a nice cheese on a great piece of bread. Seriously, make some now. You won’t regret it.

The next recipe comes from a novel. I recently finished ready Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell; the book is a fictionalized account of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother, Caterina. It is a really enthralling read and it is very well-written. In it, the character Caterina da Vinci often makes a compote that her aunt taught her to make. “Compote” is French for mixture but it seems to usually mean a mixture of either fruits or meats cooked on a low temperature for a long time; the result is that the meat or fruit breaks down and the flavors of the dish combine. This particular compote is made with olives and grapes and fresh herbs. Yes, I am aware of how unusual this combination sounds; The Boyfriend was quite vocal in his doubts as well, and to be honest I was a little unsure of how the flavors would combine. Well all of the doubts were for naught as the compote was delicious and well-received by everyone at Star Trek night.

Grape and Olive Compote

Adapted from a recipe by Robin Maxwell

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Kalamata olives, pits removed
  • Equal amount red seedless grapes + 3 tbsp
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herb (thyme, basil, or rosemary)

Directions:

1) Mix all ingredients in an ovenproof dish and bake uncovered for one hour at 350 degrees, turning the fruit every 15 minutes with a spoon to recoat them with the oil and vinegar.

2) Serve warm or cold with soft goat cheese on crusty bread or with crackers, or use as a side dish with fish or poultry.

My total snack spread wound up being goat cheese, a bulb of roasted garlic, the olive-grape compote, some slices of Muenster and Habanero cheddar cheeses, pan-fried prosciutto, and a loaf of sliced Italian bread. I’m big on bread and cheese so I was quite content with the finished product; and yes, this was my dinner for the evening, haha.

Ok, so end-of-blog question time: what is your favorite food/recipe to bring to a party?

Nostalgia circle

Standard
Nostalgia circle

I’ve been a little sentimental this week, thinking of all of my friends (whom I miss very much) that live elsewhere. When I got to making the grocery list for the week, I was still in nostalgia-land and so I decided to make chicken adobo. This is a Filipino recipe that reminds me of a great friend—and great chef!—Alberto, who is from the Philippines. Alberto made pork adobo and brought it to share at a recent burn and it was fantastic. Since I can’t have Alberto here right now (boo! He is a great person and gives the best hugs) then at least I can have a taste of his home.

Chicken Adobo

PigPig’s Corner

 Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and quartered
  • 1/8 cup vinegar (apple cider or white)
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 handful fresh basil, torn

Directions:

1. Heat up a bit of oil in a large pot. Brown chicken pieces on all sides. Leave aside for later use.

2. In the same pot, fry onions until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add garlic and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Add all the other ingredients (including chicken) to pot.

5. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until sauce thickened, about 30-45 minutes.

6. Stir in basil and serve over rice.

The chicken was really tasty and beyond easy. It made enough for about 6 meals for us because The Boyfriend eats an entire thigh per meal and I eat about ½ a piece. When I told Alberto about making adobo, he gave some great advice for the leftovers:

“Shred the chicken while reducing the sauce (or add cornstarch + water) to thicken. Fry shredded chicken and top with thickened sauce. Great with rice and fried eggs or in a sandwich with slices of tomato.”

It sounds like a tasty way to eat up the leftover chicken; The Boyfriend and I will probably give it a try for lunch tomorrow.

I served the chicken with a great veggie stir-fry and jasmine rice.

For the stir-fry, I used carrots, broccoli, yellow cauliflower, green onion, and red pepper. It was a nice accompaniment to a yummy meal.

Yellow cauliflower: more nutritious regular cauliflower!  And our grocery store was out of the normal stuff. The Boyfriend said that he preferred the taste of the  yellow cauliflower actually, even though I thought they tasted the same.

I’m sorry that I have such random pictures lately. It’s just been difficult to coordinate prep work and cooking and cleaning with taking step-by-step photos. I’ll try to get better pictures in the coming weeks.

Yay Pepsi Throwback! Made with real sugar and tastes way better than regular canned Pepsi. Mmm!

I’m trying this new “end posts with a question” thing so tonight’s question: do you have any nostalgic food? Foods that you make or eat when you feel sentimental or food that makes you feel sentimental?

I’m trying this new “end posts with a question” thing so tonight’s question: do you have any nostalgic food? Foods that you make or eat when you feel sentimental or food that makes you feel sentimental?

Quick update and an easy recipe

Standard

Update! My job interviews went well; that’s right interviews. I got a phone call that turned into a phone interview right after I got home from my first interviews. Fingers crossed that one of these turns into a full-time position for me!

In celebration of two successful interviews, The Boyfriend and I hit Home Depot again to pick up some curtain rods; tonight I will say good-bye to ugly bedroom blinds and a stupid closet door and hello to pretty bedroom curtains! Yay!

 Ugly blinds before

Pretty curtain after!

Space-wasting closet door before

Pretty new closet curtain after!

 Ok, quick recipe time! I bought some delicious blue cheese (mmm) at our local co-op and after nom-ing on a small snack of Miss Vickie’s jalapeno potato chips and blue cheese, I decided to make dinner. I had 2 goals for dinner tonight: I needed dinner to be easy and I also wanted to clean out the fridge of leftovers. Voila! Miracle chicken was born (I called it Miracle because it tasted too good to be so easy).

 Miracle Chicken  

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned and cooked
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • ½ white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 oz blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions:

1) Chop up the garlic and onion; wash and dry mushrooms.

2) Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Salt and pepper the mixture and sauté for 5-7 minutes.

3) Add balsamic vinegar to skillet and cook mushroom mixture for another minute or until brown and slightly crunchy; remove from skillet.

4) Butterfly cooked chicken breast; spoon mushroom mixture over the chicken breast. Top with blue cheese and breadcrumbs.

5) Broil chicken for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are browned. Eat ½ of the portion and serve with a giant salad to assuage the guilt.

 No pictures, sorry; I ate it too fast! This was delicious. And decadent. And easy. And I didn’t feel that it was too bad for me since I only ate a small portion. If you’re nervous about blue cheese, I urge you to try it; yeah, it has a strong smell and is kind of gross if you think about the fact that it’s moldy but it’s also creamy and unctuous and it can really be the belle of the ball in a dish like this. I guess if you have a strong aversion to blue cheese, you could probably swap the blue for goat cheese, but I really recommend the blue.

‘K, that’s it for tonight. New tradition: Question of the Blog! Tonight’s question: what is your favorite cheese? I think I need to work on my question-asking skills…

Spicy food for a spicy day!

Standard
Spicy food for a spicy day!

Today has been pretty great, spicy in fact. I have 3 exciting pieces of news to share!

  1. The future
  2.  Home improvements
  3. Welcome home

Ok, so first up something exciting about The Future. That sounds nicely cryptic, right? Well I won’t keep you in suspense any longer—I have a job interview tomorrow! I won’t tell you where because I don’t want to jinx it but fingers crossed that I get hired!!

Number 2 (ha!): home improvements. I’m sure that I mentioned that The Boyfriend and I have a laundry list of things we want to do to our new place (and if I didn’t, I’m mentioning it now). Seeing as neither one of us have an income right now, we have to tackle our “honey-do list” slowly (aka inexpensively). Today we hit up our local Home Depot and spent about $25 picking up supplies to work on 2 projects. The first project is putting in shelves in our common closet! Our apartment really doesn’t have a common closet so The Boyfriend and I made one out of one of the pantries in our kitchen. Fortunately, it is a nice big closet; it used to house our refrigerator! Unfortunately, it requires a bit of work before it can be an efficient closet; we’ve already taken the door off of its hinges and now we just need to put up a few shelves and a curtain rod + curtain. First step, putting up a shelf! It cost about $12 for the entire project: 1 piece of wood (3/4” x 11” x 48”), 2 brackets (we opted for the fancy ones so we could also install a hanging bar), and some screws (we bought a pack up 10 for $1.00; #8 x 1” flathead). I won’t take credit for this project—The Boyfriend screwed the brackets to the wall and then to the shelf and mounted the whole thing. I think it took him about 30 minutes and he said his hand was sore when he was done but that it was worth it.

I probably should have documented the process better (and I will in the future!) but I just thought of adding my home improvements to the blog like 5 minutes ago. However, I do have an old before picture and a new after picture that I can share!

Before:

After:

Bam!

The second home improvement task that we accomplished today was the creation of an ‘Art While You Fart’ set-up in our bathroom. AWYF is something that I first saw at a burn (more about those later); at the burn, it was a poster board hung inside the port-o-johns with a marker attached. In another joint venture, I noticed the perfect “chalkboard-like” space to the left of our toilet and The Boyfriend spray-painted it with chalkboard paint. Bam! Instant art…while you fart. The only thing left for that is installing a chalk shelf and buying chalk. I’ll post a picture of the AWYF space as soon as there is some art on it!

Ok, last update and then recipes, I promise! Maybe you’re wondering what the “welcome home” means. Well even if you’re not, I’m going to tell you. The Boyfriend and I (along with a good group of friends) bought our tickets for Playa del Fuego tonight! Playa del Fuego (PDF) is a northeast regional Burning Man event. I could try to explain what burns are but I think I’ll let the wiki page do it for me. PDF is a smaller (1200 people compared to BM’s 50,000) regional burn that happens in Delaware in May and October. It will be my fifth burn but my first time at PDF. I am beyond excited! The “welcome home” title refers to the greeting (+ a hug!) that every single person gets when they get to a burn; virgin burners (first-time burners) also traditionally get paddled.

It’s going to good to go home in October; even better will be the reunion at Afterburn* in November.

*AB is a Florida burn. It was my second burn and is still my favorite of the burns that I have been to. Seeing all of our best friends is a pretty great incentive for The Boyfriend and I to make the 1200 mile journey.

Ok, now what you’re really here for: food! With all of the excitement of today, I didn’t have a ton of time to spend on dinner. Nevertheless, it was a solidly tasty effort with very little effort expanded on my part!

Sriracha Chicken

Adapted from a recipe at Whisk Kid

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha, more or less to taste
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Place the chicken in Ziploc bag; set aside.

2) Add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor (or in my case, a Magic Bullet) and blend until completely combined. Add marinade to plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

3) Preheat the oven to 350F; cook the chicken, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until cooked through.

A wee bit blurry…

For being so easy, the chicken was really tasty. The Boyfriend said “It tastes like actually good Chinese food” so I guess that was a compliment, as well as a testament to the fact that making this wasn’t much harder than ordering take-out.

Balsamic green beans with feta

Adapted from a recipe at Chinese Grandma

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb green beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Snap ends off green beans and rinse; pat dry.

2) Heat a skillet large enough to hold the beans comfortably; add olive oil.

3) Add green beans to skillet but be prepared for a lot of popping oil. Be careful!

4) Using long tongs, stir the green beans around the pan making sure that they all get covered in oil. Turn the temperature to medium low and cover pan.

5) When the popping has subsided, take the cover off and stir beans again; they should be turning bright green.

6) Add a ¼ cup of water to the pan and cover; cook for 1 minute or until beans are at preferred doneness.

7) Drain excess water from pan; add salt and pepper to taste.

8) Remove beans from skillet; drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with crumbled feta.

I’m sold on anything that has feta cheese but in general, these green beans were pretty great. Very easy, very healthy, and a nice change from our normal butter-and-garlic-sauteed green beans.

I bet you’re exhausted reading a post this long (and it IS pretty late at night too), so I’ll just say goodnight for now but I do have one question for the evening: what do you think of Art While You Fart? Totally awesome or so weird?