Category Archives: Misc

Sitzpinkler

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Sitzpinkler: noun; German

1. Literal translation: someone who sits to pee

2. Wimp

I recently finished rereading one of my favorite books: An Abundance of Katherines. It’s about a washed-up child prodigy (Colin) who has just gotten dumped by his 19th straight Katherine. To cope, he goes on a road-trip with his overweight slacker best friend; they spend the whole summer in Gutshot, Tennessee while Colin tries to get over his heartbreak and prove his mathematical formula of Underlying Katherine Predictability. The book is a fun and silly YA fiction and the author (John Green) is fantastic; the third-person perspective is very witty and readers learn fun facts that Colin knows (like the definition of sitzpinkler and what a pupillary sphincter is). I first read it several years ago; I loved it and loaned my copy out and never saw it again, until I ran across one for $1 at a book sale last week.

Ok, now for the food.

You have seen pictures of my “kitchen” at our hotel so you know what I am cooking and prepping on but I wanted you to know what I have to cook with: one pot, one pan, spatula, slotted spoon, ladle, and 2 each sharp knives, large plates, small plates, and bowls. Everything that I make in this hotel will be made within the confines of the kitchen space and equipment (or lack therof).

Alrighty. Since I am dealing with these restrictions, for our first meal in our new home at the hotel I decided make something that I am familiar with. Dorm-dwellers and those with small kitchens rejoice in the chicken souvlaki gyro.

Chicken souvlaki gyros and tzaziki

Adapted from a recipe at The Novice Chef Blog

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, in bite size pieces (or, to minimize work, 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken strips)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Greek Seasoning (or garlic/herb seasoning)
  • Paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Whole-wheat pita bread
  • Optional: Lettuce, tomato, red onion, feta cheese

Directions:

1) Combine all ingredients except chicken, and mix well; place in a Ziploc bag, and add chicken. Shake to ensure the marinade is covering chicken and massage into chicken. Allow to marinate in refrigerator 1 hour to overnight.

2) Remove chicken from marinade and toss leftover marinade.

3) Add 2 tbsp olive oil to skillet over medium high heat; cook chicken 7-8 minutes or until cooked through.

4) To assemble the gyro: heat up one whole-wheat pita bread in either a skillet or the microwave. Add chicken, lettuce, tomato, sliced red onion and feta cheese and top with Tzatziki. To serve as a salad, omit pita bread and serve chicken over vegetables with feta and Tzatziki on top.

***To make this meal vegetarian friendly, use seitan, tofu, or other source of protein in place of chicken.***

Tzatziki

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz Greek yogurt
  • juice of  ½ of a lemon
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Garlic salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

My cutting board: a small, plastic lid.

Directions:
1) Slice cucumber in half, length wise. Using a spoon, scrape out seeds.

Or ignore the directions and spend twice as long cutting the seeds out. Doh!

2) Finely chop cucumber and place in paper towels and squeeze out extra moisture.

3) Combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, shredded cucumber, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper; refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

 This is meal is easy to make while still being fairly healthy; I didn’t have any real problems even working with limited tools and counter space. The chicken reheats well and the leftovers don’t take up much space in our little fridge. The whole-wheat pita bread has more fiber and less sugar than white pita bread so it keeps you full for longer. The chicken is lean and all of the vegetables add nutrients without adding many calories; and don’t feel bad about piling on the tzaziki: real Greek yogurt is naturally fat-free and chock full of heart-healthy garlic!


Speaking of healthy, have you ever seen the MTV show I Used to Be Fat? It’s a reality show with real high school graduates who are overweight and want to go into college being a different person. MTV sends them a personal trainer/nutritionist and a camera crew captures the entire summer while these teens learn how to be healthier individuals (think MADE without the lame drama). At the end of the show, there’s a “reveal” with before and after pictures and clips from the summer. I’ve seen a few episodes here and there and didn’t think much of it until a marathon came on this weekend. I watched one episode where a girl lost 45 pounds in 80 days which was pretty impressive; even more impressive was that MTV had a follow-up with her a year later and she was keeping up her healthy lifestyle. I think MTV might have actually done something kind of good with this show; college is a pretty pivotal time in your life especially because it is the first time that most people live on their own. You become an adult as you do your own laundry, clean your own house or dorm, and cook your own meals. I think it is really kind of cool that MTV is stepping in and teaching these soon-to-be adults about nutrition and fitness; yeah, it would be better if their parents were the ones teaching them but I do think it’s cool that MTV has made a show about transformation and health and it is relatable to teens. There was one particular episode that got me thinking about it, a boy who lost 117 pounds in 110 days; he went from 315 lbs down to 198. And he did it by working out and eating better, in a way that is sustainable for him (surfing as a form of exercise, swapping chicken sandwiches for chicken salad, etc). If you’re looking to make a transformation in your life (and you’re tired of seeing those “I lost 30 lbs without sweating!” ads) then check out I Used to Be Fat: their journey is tough and pretty inspiring.

And now that I’m talking about TV shows, it’s about that time for all those fall premiers! Are you excited for the premier of new TV shows and return of old ones? Or are you not really a TV person? I’m looking forward to the start of Grimms and Once Upon a Time next week; both of them look a little dark and fantastical. Some of my old favorites have just started up again too and having cable in the hotel means I can actually watch them when they come on rather than having to wait 24-hours and catch them on the internet. I just got my mom hooked on Pretty Little Liars—she watched all 22 episodes in the first season this weekend as she was recovering from her surgery. Oh, right! My mom got her port put in on Friday. The surgery went well and she’s fine, just sore. After we get the chemo-sensitivity test back sometime in the next few weeks, we should be ready to start IPT. The chemo-sensitivity test is a test that they can do in Europe; basically they see what type of chemo (because there are a lot of them) is most effective on my mom’s type of cancer. That way, when we start IPT we know that the chemo is going to be as effective as possible.

One more recipe and then we’re done for the day. There is a fantastic Thai restaurant across the street from my mom’s clinic; I’ve eaten lunch there a few times and I’m especially gaga for their coconut curry soup. Since I can’t justify paying $3.50 for a bowl every day, I decided to whip up a batch of my own.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Adapted from a recipe at Pink Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 piece of ginger, peeled, about 2 inches
  • 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Juice of one lime
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 3-4 green onions
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

 Directions:

1) Prep all of the ingredients: cut the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces; finely chop ginger, slice mushrooms and chop green onions.

2) Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; add curry paste and cook for about 30 seconds stirring constantly.

3) Add the stock, coconut milk (1 full can + the cream portion from the second can) and ginger and bring it to a boil.

4) Add the sugar, lime juice, lemon juice, and fish sauce; reduce by 1/4 to 1/3, about 30 minutes,

5) Add the chicken, cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook until chicken is almost cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

6) Add vegetables; turn heat up to medium-high and cook until vegetables are just cooked, about 5 minutes.

7) Ladle into bowls over rice (optional); top each soup bowl with cilantro.

I wish my camera was cool enough to catch the steam rising from the surface. Mmm…

***For the non-meat eaters, this one is practically vegetarian as is! Swap vegetable stock for the chicken stock, omit the fish sauce and use salt or soy sauce (or vegetarian fish sauce, if you can find it), and add your choice of vegetables or tofu to the broth.***

Ok, that’s it for today. Tune in again in a few days for:

  • Pictures and stories from Alchemy, the GA burn
  • Cool things to do in Atlanta (Korean tacos, pretentious hot dogs, and Rocky Horror). Will you be shivering in  antici…pation tonight?
  • Bangin’ BBQ chicken wraps and crab-stuffed salmon!

Until next time…






How not to make a bacon pinata

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This is another meat-centric blog post: sorry vegetarians! This was a few days ago; it is probably what made me so eager to eschew red meat this week. T-bones were on sale this week so we bought 2 for the 3 of us; they totaled a little over 3 pounds!  Steak is one of my favorite meals, especially with the sear-it-and-bake-it method. This is another one that sounds a little strange, I know. Why would you bake a steak when you could grill it, right? Trust me. This is a delicious way to make a steak and it is impossible to overcook it if you follow the directions. The bacon and duck fat adds the smokiness that you would get from a grill and the cast iron provides a beautiful sear on the outside while retaining the juices from the steak.

  Best Steak

Ingredients:

  • T-bone steak
  • 1 tbsp duck fat
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat
  • Celery salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper

Directions:

1) Take steak out of refrigerator; season with celery salt and pepper and garlic powder. Let steak sit on counter until it warms up to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

2) Preheat oven to 400 degrees; heat both fats up in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

3) Cook steak for 1-2 minutes per side; put the skillet in the oven and cook about 7 minutes for a rare or medium-rare steak.

4) Remove the steak from the pan immediately; let steak rest on plate for 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Delicious steak and because it was so thick, it was beautifully rare. I cooked up some Yukon gold potatoes (my fave potato!), hasselback style.  

  Rosemary Hasselback Potatoes

Adapted from a recipe at http://theculinarychronicles.com/2011/06/17/rosemary-garlic-hasselback-potatoes/

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, washed and dried
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • About 10 large basil leaves, 4 whole and 6 torn in half
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Place oil and the 6 torn basil leaves in a small saucepan and heat on medium-low for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

2) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place one potato on a wooden spoon on a cutting board. Starting from one end of the potato, make slits about 1/8 inch apart; cut all the way down to the sides of the wooden spoon but do not cut all the way through the bottom. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

3) Carefully slip one slice of garlic in between every few segments of the potatoes until all the garlic has been evenly distributed.

4) Put one whole basil  leaf in the middle of each potato.

5) Place potatoes on a baking sheet and brush them all over with the basil infused oil; season with sea salt and pepper.

6) Bake the potatoes for 30-40 minutes, depending on size. Interior should be soft and exterior should be slightly crisp.

  I had never made hasselback potatoes before today but I have been eyeing them for some time. They always seemed too difficult though so I had avoided them; I was pleasantly surprised by how simple they were to make! Yeah, mine didn’t come out as pretty as they could have but they were still very tasty. We used the leftover potato and steak to make an epic steak sandwich (steak and potatoes and mushroom and onions and jalapenos and provolone on sourdough. Yum!). I am already dreaming about making these again and soon!

I made a twist on my favorite baked carrots for some color and nutrients.

Baked Carrots

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz whole carrots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Mix all spices and chopped garlic into butter.

3) Put carrots on baking dish; spread mixture liberally all over carrots.

4) Cover baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil; bake for 40 minutes.

5) Remove foil; drizzle olive oil over carrots and bake for 10 more minutes.

6) Remove carrots from baking sheet; drizzle with lemon juice and top with feta cheese.


And what meal is complete without a drink? I drink a lot of water and I’m trying to not drink as much soda, so I’m always looking for healthier alternatives (remember my instant iced tea?).  So insert cranberry spritzer! Seltzer is calorie-free (I think) and cranberry juice is great for urinary health and is relatively low in sugar. Together with a bit of lime, it’s a drink that is refreshing and bubbly without being too sweet.

Cranberry Spritzer

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz seltzer water
  • 3-4 oz cranberry juice
  • lime slice

Directions:

1) Pour cranberry juice into tall glass; top with seltzer.

2) Squeeze lime slice into cup; drop lime into drink. Enjoy.

So, on a different note, remember those burns that I told you about in a previous post? Well, there is one in Delaware in October that I have been planning to go to for a few months now. I got my ticket, I have camping gear, and we have been planning some fun and kooky things to bring to the burn. Well, I just sold my ticket to a fellow burner who missed out because I am not going to be here to go to the burn in a few weeks. I am leaving sometime next week to go to Atlanta to stay with my mom; she broke her back 2 months ago after she got back home from taking a week off to move me in up here in NY. Sucky, right? So she is going to be receiving treatment at her clinic in Atlanta and I am going to be there helping her since her mobility is limited. So it’ll be goodbye to cold weather for now; I’m going to miss the changing of the leaves here and I might miss the first snow. My mom is awesome so I’m glad I’ll get to spend time with her; and I’ll be glad to be there just so she doesn’t have to do it alone. Anyway, I am going to get to go to a different burn in Atlanta the weekend after this one: Alchemy. Yay! So those burn projects we have been thinking about might not have to be put off after all. The Boyfriend and I decided to tackle one of those projects this week: a bacon piñata. We imagined covering a balloon in bacon-mache; when the mache dries, we can just pop the balloon and we’d have a hard outer bacon shell, just like when using paper mache. Sounds plausible, right? First problem: edible glue. I googled that and came up with Tylose powder. According to the internet, Tylose powder is a miracle elixir that you can make “glue” with. Glue problem solved. Now that we had glue and bacon, what other problems could arise, right? Ugh. Nothing went right, except that we wound up with 2 lbs of cooked bacon at the end of the project. The Tylose never set, the edible mache glue that I made was a thick goopy mess, and the simple syrup and the maple syrup just made everything sticky. And then The Boyfriend dropped the balloon on the table and everything fell off. Ugh. It was a mess. I decided to include the recipe in case you want to know how not to make a piñata.

 How not-to make a bacon piñata

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs bacon
  • 1 balloon
  • 1 tsp Tylose powder
  • ½ cup warm water
  • Optional: ¼ cup simple syrup AND/OR ¼ cup maple syrup AND/OR ¼ cup edible mache glue


 Directions:

1) The night before you start your doomed enterprise, mix up your glue: add warm water to Tylose powder and refrigerate overnight. Don’t be alarmed if the powder does not dissolve instantly in the water; it will combine fully while it is sitting overnight.

2) When you’re ready to make a piñata, start by cooking your bacon. I recommend cooking it in the oven: it’s easy (for you) and it ensures that the bacon cooks as flat as possible. To cook in the oven: preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay bacon strips on a roasting pan; cook bacon for 20 minutes.

You can make a “bacon weave”, if you think that will help the bacon stick to itself and the balloon; if you do that, flip the bacon weave halfway through cooking time.

3) While the bacon is cooking, blow up your balloon; it should be smaller than your head.

I recommend cleaning the balloon with some vinegar water prior to bacon application.

4) When the bacon is finished, remove from pan to a paper towel lined plate; blot bacon with another paper towel to remove grease.

5) To make piñata: apply Tylose glue to both sides of bacon strips or weave; sluice off excess.

6) Slap bacon onto balloon; use simple syrup/maple syrup/edible mache glue to help affix the bacon weave to the balloon. Hold bacon weave in place for about 30 minutes or until it seems reasonably dry. Remove your hands and watch in despair as the bacon weave slides off.

7) Put the bacon weave back on the roasting pan; add some seasonings to the top (cayenne pepper or chili powder or butt rub) and pop it back in the oven for 6-8 more minutes or until crispy.

8) Gorge on bacon until your belly bursts and celebrate your failed bacon piñata.

Because of the failure of the bacoñata, I have no pictures of the finsihed product 😦

Anyone out there have an idea on how to make a completely edible piñata?

Feasting

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Feasting

If you’re sensitive to pictures of dead animals, you might want to avoid this blog post.

Man, I am still behind on recipes! I’m sorry that I’ve been slacking on the blog-front; it’s been a little busy around here and I’ve not been in the blogging mood. But before I cook anything else, I want to catch you up on everything that I haven’t posted. So I’m going to start a while back with the feast that we had. A few days after The Boyfriend’s party, he and I started kicking around the idea of doing a feast.

We usually had a feast as a celebration for The Boyfriend’s birthday but we hadn’t this year. The feast would have a $10-$15 buy-in and there was usually six or eight of us who would buy in. We’d buy crab legs and shrimp and scallops and sometimes lobster tails. It’s always been a good excuse for a fun night with friends and a fancy dinner at low cost. We wound up deciding to do a small feast with just a few friends in Albany; with our $40 budget, we bought shrimp, lobster (tails and claws), sea scallops, and a duck. Roasted duck is one of my favorite things to make in part because it’s so easy. And, besides also being really delicious (it tastes like the dark meat of chicken), it also yields duck fat. Duck fat is a fat that can be cooked in; it’s a liquid at room temperature, it is less bad for you than butter, and it gives a light, smoky flavor to food that is cooked in it. In short, it is a miracle elixir of magical proportions in the kitchen.

Back to how easy duck is to prepare: the first time I made a roast duck, it was under the supervision of a close foodie-friend of mine, Wilco. Whenever I was got insecure that I was doing something that was going to ruin the duck, I’d ask Wilco. Wilco always responded the same way “The worst that can happen is you’re going to have a roast duck.” And that is pretty much true. If you cook the duck too long, yeah, the meat might be a little tougher but the skin will be all the crispier. If your rub isn’t flavorful enough, you can always add more salt once it’s cooked. Trust me, a duck is one of the easiest things you can make but it sounds so fancy that it will impress people. AND it tastes great. What more could you want from dinner?

My favorite rub is a barbecue-style rub; it is salty and smoky and sweet and spicy.

Crispy BBQ Duck

Ingredients  

  • 1 whole duck, 5.5 to 6 lbs
  • ½ white onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
  • 1 cup boiling water

Spice rub

  • Butt rub
  • Brown sugar
  • Spanish paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

 Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Remove duck from packaging; drain blood and check to make sure there is nothing inside the duck (like the duck’s organs in a bag).

3) Using a knife, score the duck skin or poke shallow holes into the skin; make sure you get all over the duck, both sides.

4) Pour 1 cup boiling water all duck.

5) Mix up seasoning in bowl; adjust quantities to taste.

Rub seasoning all over duck, making sure to get every part.

6) Shove onion and garlic cloves inside the duck; place duck on broiler pan in oven.

7) Cook for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the duck (2 hours for a 4.5-5 lb duck; 3 hours for a 6.5-7 lb duck). Turn the duck in the oven every half hour. Duck is done when skin is brown and crispy and juices run clear.

 Pouring boiling water over the duck after it’s been scored loosens up the fat under the skin of the duck. When the duck roasts, the fat melts off making the skin crispy (and creating quantities of  wonderful duck fat).

Our duck really was whole this time: head and feet included! You can get frozen duck at the grocery store; these will likely have head/neck and feet removed. Or you can buy refrigerated ready-to-cook duck from an Asian supermarket; this duck will more likely have head/neck and/or feet still attached. It is just a matter of preference. For me, I prefer being able to eat the whole duck; the meat on duck feet is delicious and extra crispy.

We bought ¾ lb of scallops at our local Asian supermarket. They were very fresh: large, white, very round.

 Bacon scallops with butter sauce

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.spotsfordates.com/07/2008/recipes/bacon-scallops-with-butter-sauce-recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 sea scallops
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp white wine (or sub for a mixture of light beer and white vinegar)
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tooth Picks

Directions:

1) Start by making sure that your scallops are completely dry: set the on paper towels to drain and blot the tops with another paper towel.

2)  While the scallops are drying, cook up the bacon; cook the same number of slices as you have scallops. Blot grease off bacon and set aside.

3) When the scallops are dry, season both sides with a little bit of salt and pepper.

4) Put 2 tbsp butter in a different frying pan over medium high heat.

5) When the butter has started to bubble, add the white wine (or beer/vinegar) and lemon juice.

6) Add scallops to pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side; remove from pan to a plate.

7) Cut bacon strips in half; to plate, slide one slice bacon (2 halves) onto a toothpick. Stick a toothpick with bacon onto a scallop. Pour butter-wine sauce over all scallops onto the plate; serve immediately.

I made the bacon-scallops this way rather than the “traditional” method (wrapping uncooked bacon around raw scallops and cooking them in the oven) to ensure that the bacon was crispy and the scallops weren’t overcooked. And it worked great! The scallops were very juicy and the chewy, saltiness of the bacon complimented them nicely. Also, this whole recipe took about 15 minutes start to finish and again, looked fancier than it really was. Double bonus.

The other two things we made were boiled shrimp and lobster tails and claws. Unfortunately the quality of the seafood was bad in this case—the seafood was frozen when we bought it and it suffered from freezer burn. The recipe is still solid so I’m going to post it, but I recommend using fresh seafood.

Seafood boil with butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 3 lbs lobster claws and tails
  • 3 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Large pot
  • Garlic butter (1 clove garlic, chopped mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)
  • Lemon butter (2 tsp lemon juice mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)

Directions:

1) Heat up a lot of water in a huge pot; add Old Bay and vinegar.

2) Once the water is boiling, add seafood; cover and cook 5-7 minutes or until shrimp is pink and lobster is bright red.

3) Serve with garlic butter and lemon butter.

And so we feasted! And it was glorious.

SheMANigans (aka the Rise and Fall of the Manwich)

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SheMANigans (aka the Rise and Fall of the Manwich)

Remember that food vacation that I mentioned in my last post? Well, this recipe is one that is leftover from that week so prepare yourself!

Being that we now have several pounds of sexy, saucy pork chillin’ in our fridge (ha!), it was time for another man foodventure.

The epic sandwich started with a regular sandwich. While The Boyfriend prefers to attack the massive pile of pork with only a fork as a weapon, I prefer to reinvent the pork leftovers and use the pork to inspire other dishes. In this case, I wanted a sandwich. When I checked my fridge for sammich ingredients, I was greeted by a plethora of greenery: an avocado, some cilantro, and limes. Can you see where this is going? Mmm. I also found a log of the tastiest mozzarella I have ever eaten and I added it to my hoarded pile of ingredients. When I captured the loaf of fresh sliced Italian bread, I knew that I had the makings of one hell of a sammich.

 Barbacoa Sammich

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices good quality bread
  • ¼ cup pork barbacoa
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • A few slices of good quality mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Pepper

Directions:

1) Toast the bread in a toaster; make sure that your pork is heated up and that the juices are drained off of it.

2) Mash up the avocado in a bowl; add lime juice and pepper to mashed avocado.

3) Spread barbacoa on one slice of bread; cover with sliced mozzarella; broil in oven until cheese melts.

4) While the bread is in the oven, spread mashed avocado on the other slice of bread. Top with chopped cilantro.

5) When cheese is melted, remove bread from oven. Combine the 2 slices of bread to make one glorious sandwich.

The Boyfriend and I washed down my sandwich with a Dr. Pepper. Tasty beverage, right? Well ours was alcoholic and didn’t contain any actual Dr. Pepper.

 Dr. Pepper

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz beer
  • 4 oz Coke
  • 1-1.5 oz Amaretto liqueur
  • Optional: 1-1.5 oz rum

Directions:

1) Pour beer and Coke into glass. Add other ingredients and drink.

OR

1) Pour beer and Coke into glass; add rum. Measure out Amaretto liqueur in shot glass; drop shot glass into glass and chug.

As you can see, The Boyfriend went the latter route; I settled for somewhere in the middle (dropping the shot glass into the mug but taking my time to drink it). I’m not usually a fan of Dr. Pepper but these were really delicious and once we added the rum, they had a bit of a kick.

While enjoying our sandwich and tasty beverage, we were joined by a helper cat–introducing Roy!

When we kicked him off of the counter, Roy decided that he should climb into our pantry to hang out and “supervise” our ingredients. Thanks kitty!

But kitties aside, this post isn’t about tasty beverages and delicious (but normal) sandwiches. This is about sheMANigans and manwiches! So how did we go from normal to absurd? Well…The day after making the barbacoa sandwich, The Boyfriend and I got hit by a one of our mad ideas (remember the Epic Dogs?) and we wanted to make epic sandwiches.

Our first effort was solid: we took the barbacoa sandwich and added garlic cheese toast and more pork products (because what isn’t made more epic and absurd by the addition of moar pork?). We call this:

The Super Sammy

Ingredients:

  • 1 barbacoa sandwich
  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 pieces ham

Directions:

1) Start by making the barbacoa sandwich.

2) Next, make the garlic cheese bread: toast (in a toaster) the extra slice of bread. Mix butter and chopped garlic in a small bowl; spread on toasted bread. Add cheese to garlic bread and pop it in the oven to broil until cheese is melted.

3) While the cheese is melting, cook bacon. Remove bacon from pan and blot; drain some of the excess grease and heat ham slices in the pan.

4) Assemble sammich: stack ham and bacon slices on top of the top slice of the barbacoa sandwich. Top with garlic cheese toast.

Look at those colors; at that cheese!

This was a tasty sandwich and we fell all over ourselves proclaiming that it was among the tastiest we had ever eaten: juicy, garlicky, creamy; flavors that came together and were also distinct and different. Fantastic.

But then…when our good friend (and fellow NCF alum!) Lisa arrived the next day, we went on a total food vacation. And what better way to celebrate than by upping the sammich-ante and finishing the pork in one helluva sammich? We basically wanted to make 3 separate and distinct sandwiches that would be combined into a giant stack. We kept our original first layer (the barbacoa sandwich) but wanted to incorporate more pork into the second layer; that’s when we decided to make the second layer into an Italian sandwich with pepperoni, ham, capicola and garlic-cheese bread. For the third and final layer, we (obviously) needed bacon and we chose to use the bacon in a classic sandwich style: the club (or TBR: turkey, bacon, ranch). Thus, The Sandwich was born.

This sammich is what the Empire State Building is to tourists: exotic, breathtaking, and very, very tall. And I don’t have to tell you that it was delicious; in fact, it was good enough to stop your heart. No really, it might; it’s pretty bad for you. Do not attempt if you have a cardiovascular disease (or if you don’t want to have cardiovascular disease as a result of this sandwich). This is definitely

 One Hulluva Sammich

Ingredients

  • 4 slices good-quality sourdough bread
  • ¼ cup barbacoa
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • ½ tbsp cilantro
  • 2 slices turkey
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 tbsp ranch dressing
  • 2 slices pepperoni
  • 2 slices ham
  • 2 slices capicola
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese

 Directions:

1) Start by prepping all of your ingredients:

  • Lightly toast 3 slices of bread
  • Chop garlic
  • Chop cilantro
  • Slice avocado

2) Spread barbacoa on the first slice of sourdough (we’ll call this S1); top with 1 oz sliced mozzarella.

3) Mash avocado; add lime juice and cilantro to mashed avocado. Spread avocado mixture on a second slice of sourdough bread (S2).

4) Mix butter and chopped garlic in bowl; spread over yet another slice of sourdough (we’ll call this piece S3); top S3 with remaining ounce of sliced mozzarella. Put S1 and S3 in oven set to broil until cheese melts; set aside.

5) Cook bacon in skillet; reserve about 1 tsp of bacon fat in skillet. Pan-fry capicola and ham in reserved bacon fat; set all fried meats aside and blot to remove excess grease.

6) Spread 1 tbsp ranch dressing on last slice of  toasted sourdough (S4).

7) Assemble the sandwich:

  • Place S1 (barbacoa/melted mozzarella) on cutting board; top with S2 (avocado mixture side down towards pork).

Add pepperoni, capicola, and ham to the top of S2; top with S3 (garlic-cheese bread side towards Italian meats).

Halve the cooked bacon; add turkey and cooked bacon to the top of S3; finish sandwich with S4 (ranch side down towards turkey and bacon).

8) Affix two large skewers through the midst of the sandwich and cut the sandwich in half (it’s the only way that you can attempt to eat it). Add pickle and a side of Miss Vickie’s jalapeno chips to the plate and enjoy! And then hibernate and revel in your food coma.

We made one and a half sandwiches so that we would each have half of a sandwich to devour.

Mini-sammich?

Layers!

Lisa, attacking her half sammich.

I can’t even begin to describe what these sandwiches tasted like, but for your sake, I’ll try. First of all, it was impossible to get a bite of all of the layers at once (at least until everything softened up after sitting for 20 or so minutes). The first bite for me was mostly bread and the barbacoa sandwich part: all pork and lime. We chose a locally-baked sourdough bread so every bread bite was moist and chewy, and the crusts were crunchy. When you can begin to bite into the second layer (my personal fave), you’re overwhelmed by the garlic and the ooey-gooey mozzarella that is melting all over the Italian meats. The capicola is salty and the edges are crispy from being pan-fried; the ham is thinner and not as fatty as the capicola; and the pepperoni is mildly spicy cutting through all of the salt, and adding a nice coolness (from being one of only 2 meats on the sandwich that wasn’t heated). The third layer is the least connective of the layers: it’s flavors are milder but stand apart. The crunchy, warm bacon is right at home on the sandwich, but the slightly sweet taste of the turkey plus the distinctly buttermilk flavor of the ranch dressing is a powerhouse of different flavors in this wondrously large sandwich.

This sandwich really is 3 distinct sandwiches under one roof; and that’s what really makes it awesome. Because with every bite you get a different combination of flavors: garlic and avocado; ranch and pepperoni; bacon and pulled pork. The combinations are virtually endless and eating this sandwich, you get to try most of them.

I called my blog Adventurous Appetite* because that’s what I have: a palate that craves new and different more often than comfortable and predictable. If you’re a “my food shouldn’t touch on my plate” person, this sandwich is not for you. If, on the other hand, you’re as likely to throw crushed pineapple as hot fudge on a sundae, then please: eat and be joyful! Or better yet, make your own crazy, outrageous food just because you can.

(Ok, so it’s really called AdventurouseAppetite. I only recently realized that I added a gratuitous ‘e’ to the end of ‘Adventurous’ in my blog name. Why? How? Well, in the spirit of AA–oh damn, didn’t realize that either when I named my blog–I’m going to just say that I did it because I could. Or maybe it was because I am a terrible typist…)

Even with all of the deliciousness before us, our stomachs were only so big. It wasn’t too long before we all conceded defeat.

Not even beer could help us finish the gargantuan meat stacks in front of us.

Throwing in the towel, our leftovers still covered the plate. Don’t worry–we wound up sharing (and finishing) the sandwich towers with friends later in the evening.

I think this pretty much concludes our sheMANigans for the last week. On the plate for the rest of this week? Dumplings, California summer rolls, Thai Basil chicken, seafood feast, and a duck! This week’s recipes are highly Asian-inspired after the discovery of a fantastic Asian supermarket in Albany. I am also (hopefully) going to get doing some layout tweaks because I am over the generic look. So if you like to code or have ever wanted to Wang Chung, stay tuned for this week’s adventures on AdventurouseAppetite!

PS photo cred to Lisa: she took all the pictures of One Hulluva Sammich and generously let me post them here. You can see more of her pictures as well as her own fabulous recipes at Smile Belly

Back on the wagon

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You may have noticed that I haven’t written much about exercising lately. Well, I have a confession to make: the last two weeks I have been not as healthy as I should have been. Exercise has been infrequent (ok, nonexistent) and we ate more red meat last week than we should have; also, there may have been some chocolate involved. But I am back on the straight and narrow!

Things to look forward to on my blog this week:

1) Less red meat! In fact, no red meat this week; instead, we’ll be eating salmon, chicken sausage, chicken and veggie spaghetti. I am tired of eggs and toast for breakfast so I need to think of something different for next week but in the meantime I have been having lots of salads, which brings me to…

2) Salad recipes! I have been eating some truly amazing salads and I’ll probably share a few recipes.

3) A recap of my daily exercise. Yep, I said daily, not every-other-daily or once-a-weekly. I need to kick myself into high(er) gear and that starts with more activity.

Bonus! An update on The Great Job Hunt. Yes, I know this isn’t really related to food but it’s relevant in my life so I’ll probably write about it. Things like pimping a resume, going on a job interview, and bemoaning unemployment.

Recipe time! Let’s start with the salad (because breakfast has been boring me lately):

Lox Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful green leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp diced red pepper
  • 2 tbsp shredded carrots
  • 1 tbsp diced tomato
  • 4 slices cucumber, quartered
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • ½ tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 oz smoked salmon, chopped
  • ½ oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp Instant Dressing

Directions:

1) Add lettuce to bowl; top with remaining salad ingredients and dressing. Enjoy!

This salad is super easy, super flavorful, full of good fats (poly/mono-unsaturated from the dressing and the avocado, omega-3s from the salmon) and really, really delicious. But don’t take my word for it—make it yourself!

Dinner time!

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Adapted from a recipe at Unwined-TN

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
    1 tsp pepper
    ½ tbsp ground cumin
    ½ tbsp paprika
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp curry powder
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp brown sugar
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 lb fillet sockeye salmon

Directions:

1) Mix chili powder, pepper, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over fish, making sure to get sides and top of fish.

2) Tear off a piece of tinfoil that is about twice the size of the fillet. Grind salt and pepper in the middle of the foil; add minced garlic and pour tablespoon of olive oil on top.

3) Center fish over the garlic/olive oil on tinfoil. Fold tinfoil up around fish, making a pouch. Put pouch on preheated grill and cook for about 10 minutes.

While I adapted the rub from the recipe at Unwined-TN I borrowed the method of cooking from A Newf in my Soup:En Papillote, French for in parchment, is a method of cooking food in a folded and sealed pouch or parcel, and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper, but a paper bag or aluminium foil works equally well. The food steams in moisture from the food itself, or from added water, wine, or stock.  Vegetables, herbs and spices add to the flavor.” So there you are. I have wanted to try cooking fish en papillote for a while but I had my eye on a recipe that uses phyllo dough as the bag and that doesn’t exactly fit in with my new ideas on eating healthy. Serve the sweet and spicy salmon with roasted broccoli and a salad for maximum health!

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Feta

Adapted from a recipe at A Couple Cooks

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag broccoli florets (or 1 head broccoli, cut into florets)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2) Cut each garlic clove into quarters.

3) Add broccoli and garlic to a bowl and toss with olive oil. Add salt and fresh ground pepper.

4) Line a baking sheet with tinfoil; add broccoli and garlic to sheet, spreading it out evenly. Roast the broccoli for about 20 minutes.

5) Put broccoli and garlic back to bowl; add feta cheese and top with lemon juice.


A very green dinner

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My last entry for Farmers’ Market week! This time our local ground beef was the star, with the fresh kale in a supporting role.

Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from a recipe at The Cynical Chef

Ingredients:

  • 16 butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or 2 tbsp white vinegar + 1 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and quartered
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Siracha hot sauce

Directions:

1) Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.

2) In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool.

3) Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and Siracha to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions, mushrooms, and red pepper have cooked, about 7-10 minutes.

4) To serve, spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!

I loved this recipe. It kind of reminded me of sushi, in a weird way. Not the ingredients (obviously) but the wonderful feeling of protein inside a leafy, green wrap. Maybe this is a good time to explain that I love lettuce—the taste, the texture, the color. Lettuce wraps pretty much encapsulate (ha!) everything that I love about lettuce while still feeling different and exotic, mostly thanks to the Asian ingredients: sesame oil, water chestnuts, hoisin sauce. Anyway, 4.5 out of 5 for me on this: it was awesome. The Boyfriend said he liked it too but he would have rather eaten the beef mixture over rice than inside a lettuce leaf.

We were under a time crunch so we made a simple side dish: sautéed kale. And when I say we, I really mean him: The Boyfriend graciously took care of the kale so I could focus on dinner and we could get out of the door sooner rather than later. The kale was okay—this is one of our go-to recipes because it is easy but it won’t win any flavor awards anytime soon. It is definitely competent but not exciting, if you know what I mean. He did a great job with it, the recipe is just not very exciting; but it is easy and it tastes good.

Sautéed Kale

Adapted from a recipe at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • ½ bunch kale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 garlic scape) chopped
  • ½ cup stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1) Wash kale; remove stem and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

3) Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored.

4) Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

5) Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Due to all of the green, I was pretty satisfied with the healthiness quotient of this meal.

Farmers’ Market

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Farmers’ Market

I meant to post this on Saturday but I got behind so happy belated blog! On Saturday The Boyfriend and I checked out the renowned Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday, the farmers’ market takes over downtown Troy; Troy closes off a few streets and close to 80 local vendors set up shop for four hours. I was super excited to see (and shop!) locally: I have never had the opportunity to buy meat, dairy, and accoutrements from local farms. In south Florida, there was a gigantic flea market that I used to frequent to buy cheap produce and the best Mexican food around, so I was doubly excited to find a replacement for my previous favorite Saturday excursion.

The Boyfriend and I decided to try to get as much of our weekly shopping done at the market as possible so we withdrew $60 for shopping (leaving about $30 for things we could only get at the grocery store). We got some great stuff for $55 (we had $5 left over!); I listed it all out because you’ll be seeing it on recipes throughout the week:

-1 lb ground beef and 1.6 lb beef spare ribs (Bornt Family Farms)

-1.3 lb chicken wings (Homestead Farms; antibiotic and hormone free)

-1 (huge) bunch kale

-1 zucchini, 1 squash

-1 lb Yukon gold potatoes

-1 bunch garlic scape

-1 tub sundried tomato and chive schmear Argyle Cheese Farmer

-1 tub Gar-la-la (vegan, raw garlic spread) from Zorba’s Natural Food

-1 22oz Hefferveisen from Brown’s Brewing Company (local brewery)

-6 oz locally made pasta from Flour City Pasta (sweet potato shells, red pepper crested rigate, lime tubes, carrot thyme radiatori)

-1 quart chocolate milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery

-1 bagel (Our Daily Bread)

-12 jumbo eggs (Cornell Farm)

On the wish list for next week is pesto from Buddha Pesto, pickles, sauerkraut, or kimchee from The Pickle Club, and some local wine! But for this week, The Boyfriend and I have planned out:

*Creamy Chicken Pasta and Raw Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

*Korean-Style Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a salad

*Buffalo Wings with Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini/Squash and a salad

*Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps with Sautéed Kale and salad

Now! The recipe. I had a cooked chicken breast left over from the week, as well as some mushrooms and orange pepper so I decided to combine leftovers with fresh goods to make an easy, healthy(ish), and fast dinner; for this recipe, I also used the schmear, garlic spread, and my local pasta.

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz tri-color spiral pasta
  • 8 oz chicken breast; seasoned, cooked and chopped
  • 4 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
  • Half an orange pepper, diced
  • Half a white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp schmear or cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2 tbsp Gar-la-la

Directions:

1) Put a pot of water on the stove to boil; add dash of olive oil and salt to water.

2) While waiting for your water to boil, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic to pan; cook 3-4 minutes.

Freakishly large garlic clove!

3) Add mushroom and red pepper to pan; cook another 3-4 minutes.

4) Turn heat down to medium; add schmear, milk, and Gar-la-la (if using). Stir until schmear melts and milk and schmear is incorporated.

5) Add chopped chicken, salt and pepper, and dill.

6) Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off the burner and take the skillet off the heat; add lemon juice just before serving.

If I wasn’t going for healthy, bacon would be a great addition to this recipe; spinach would also be a tasty compliment to the pasta. Or sundried tomatoes! Or rosemary instead of dill, mmm. Or… I should probably stop before I get carried away. The point is, this recipe is pretty versatile and you really can add or omit ingredients at your discretion. I can’t recommend the garlic spread enough though—shit is baller. Tastes great on everything—bread, crackers, chips, pasta; you get the idea.

For the side dish, I decided to serve some of the giant bunch of kale that I bought. I didn’t want to serve it the way I normally do (sautéed with garlic and olive oil) since the pasta was already garlicky. Instead I decided to go out on a limb and make a raw kale salad. Kale can be a bit bitter (and, as The Boyfriend says, tastes “too plant-y”) but I read a few online recipes that recommended removing all of the stem to tackle the bitterness problem; the recipes also recommended soaking the kale in salad dressing  to soften it up and give it some flavor.

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • ¼ bunch kale
  • ¼ cup cup shredded carrots
  • 6 slices of cucumber, quartered
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup roasted chickpeas
  • ½ cup salad dressing

Directions:

1) Wash kale; completely remove all stem pieces and chop kale into bite-sized pieces.

2) Add kale and salad dressing to Ziploc bag; squish bag to make sure kale is completely covered in dressing. Place kale bag in fridge and let chill for 15-20 minutes.

3) When kale is ready, put kale in bowl with other salad ingredients; toss.

Roasted Chickpeas  

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400o; line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

2) Add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, and seasonings to bowl. Mix well.

3) Spread chickpeas onto baking sheet and put baking sheet into oven; bake for 20-25 minutes stirring chickpeas occasionally.

Once roasted, the chickpeas can be eaten as a snack as well as a salad-topper; The Boyfriend really enjoyed them and compared their texture and taste to peanuts.

The salad was pretty good; The Boyfriend thought it was still too plant-y but I thought it tasted fine. I’m also a big fan of tomato, cucumber, and shredded carrots so it was an easy sell for me.