Tag Archives: chicken

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…






Necesito mas cervezas

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My mom and I are learning Spanish courtesy of her boyfriend (although this phrase I learned from my good friend Cristina). But the title really has nothing to do with the post, beyond the fact that I like to cook and I like beer.

Once again it has been busy around here and, once again, I’ve been neglecting my blog. I am sorry readers and I wish that my blog didn’t suffer form my busy-ness. To make it up to you I am going to give you a nice long blog to catch you up on everything:

1) I think I mentioned a while back that my mom fell and broke her back the week after she helped me and The Boyfriend move into our apartment in New York. Well, her doctor did bone scans and they found lesions and the lesions are cancer. So we are in Atlanta where my mom’s doctors are and she is going to be starting IPT chemo later this week or early next week. She is going to be all right but we appreciate all healing thought and positivity sent towards her!

2) We were staying with a friend of my mom’s but things weren’t working out (apparently we are too loud and messy) so we moved into an extended-stay hotel. It’s a bit small but it’s closer to the clinic and less stressful than being at my mom’s friend’s place.

3) For the next few weeks my recipes might be fewer than usual and…simpler than usual since our kitchen looks like this:

 That’s our kitchen: just 2 burners, a microwave and a mini-fridge. There is no oven, very little counter space, and no kitchen appliances, fancy or otherwise.

Nope. It doesn’t look any bigger from a different angle.

For the next few weeks, everything I make will be made with 1 pot and/or 1 pan. And since our fridge is the size of a postage stamp:

I will be cooking less than usual. For instance, I am only cooking 1 or 2 dinners a week because we have to completely finish all leftovers before there is enough fridge space to house something else.  Did I mention that my mom has dietary restrictions? This means little to no sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy, pork, and red meat in my recipes for the next few weeks as I do my best to cook around her dietary restrictions.

Whew! Now that that’s covered I though that I’d catch you up on some old recipes (i.e. from 2-3 weeks ago) today and introduce more recent ones in the next post. These first three recipes are ones that I lost in the shuffle of everything that’s been going on lately, starting with

Tostadas. I love tostadas; honestly, I think it has more to do with the queso fresco and salsa than anything else. And maybe too it’s because of memories: the last 2 years in school a couple (Jessica and Carlos) came into one of the school’s lounge spaces on the weekends to make and sell food. Jessica is (I think) Columbian and Mexican and Carlos is Dominican and Mexican and they shared their life and their background through the food that they made: tacos, tostadas, rice and beans, empanadas, quesadillas, and arepas with guava and cheese. Jessica and Carlos have 3 kids and like a lot of people in this economy were looking for an extra source to supplement their income. I don’t know exactly how they happened upon the college kitchen but I am sure glad they did! Besides the fact that their food was always fresh, affordable, and available on the weekends, Jessica and Carlos are really nice, very intelligent people. They were always friendly and tolerant of the college environment and they took the time to get to know people. I have missed them since graduating, especially since I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye and get contact info from them. So I guess that’s what I think of when I eat tostadas: I think of college on the weekends (fun!) and the wonderful Jessica and Carlos. I do miss it all. Anyway, enough nostalgia—here’s the recipe:

Shrimp Tostadas

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp or so each paprika, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, pinch brown sugar, salt and pepper
  • Corn tortillas and Pam or other baking spray OR bag of tostadas

To top tostadas:

  • Chopped avocado
  • Best salsa ever
  • Queso fresco
  • Lettuce
  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Greek yogurt

 Directions:

1) Mix 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, and all spices; add to a Ziploc bag with shrimp, onion, and chopped garlic. Let marinate for 1-2 hours in fridge.

2) When you’re ready to cook the shrimp, heat 2 tsp oil in pan over medium high heat.

3) Dump contents of bag into pan; cook 5-6 minute or until shrimp is cooked through.

4) While the shrimp is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

5) Spray corn tortillas with Pam; cook for 5-10 minutes or until corn tortillas are crispy (skip this step if you bought a bag of tostadas).

6) To serve, put all toppings on the table. Assemble tostadas: spread Greek yogurt or sour cream on the crispy corn tortilla. Top with lettuce, shrimp, chopped tomato, cilantro, and avocado. Finish with crumbled queso fresco and salsa.

Good cheese is pretty crucial here. I recommend hitting up your local Mexican super market to find the authentic stuff: it tastes better and is less expensive than you’ll find at the grocery store. If you can’t find good queso fresco, mozzarella will work. I also recommend the Best Salsa or another spicy, restaurant-style salsa; Pace or Tostitos won’t do this recipe any favors.

Because I am such a creature  of habit (and because I don’t know another healthy side dish that compliments Mexican/Tex-Mex food) I made the corn and bean salad again. I am starting to think that my lack of side dish creativity is the reason we don’t eat Mexican/Tex-Mex as often as we’d like. The only other side dish I have run across that would complement a Mexican/Tex-Mex meal is Spanish rice and I just hate making another starch when there is already a starch element to the meal (tortillas). Anyone have a suggestion for a healthy side with moar veggies?

And we usually just bring all of the toppings to the table and build our tostadas there; it winds up being less messy in the long run.

***To vegitize this meal, replace the shrimp with whatever protein you’d rather be eating: tofu, tempeh, chick’n, etc.***

Next!

40 Clove Chicken is one that I have been jonesing to make for a while now. The allure of 40 cloves of garlic in a single recipe is pretty hard to pass up, too hard apparently because I decided to use up all of my garlic in one evening to make it. Was it worth it? You betcha! Surprisingly it wasn’t as intensely garlicky as I thought (and would have liked) it to be. But it was creamy and mildly spicy and very tender and we wound up eating all of the leftovers, which usually indicates a well-liked recipe in my house.

40 clove chicken

Adapted from a recipe at For the Love of Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or duck and/or bacon fat)
  • Italian seasoning, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste
  • 40 cloves of garlic
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 2/3 cups of chicken broth
  • ¼ cup milk

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; then start separating the cloves of garlic and peeling them.

2) Place trimmed and halved chicken breast in a large zip lock bag. If necessary, pound the chicken breasts flat with a mallet until ½ inch thick.

3) Season with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.

4) Heat the olive oil (or bacon/duck fat) in a large skillet over medium high heat. In batches, sauté the chicken smooth side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 minutes; flip the breasts and cook for 45 seconds then remove to a baking dish.

5) Once all the chicken has been removed, add the garlic and the onions to the pot. Lower the heat and sauté for 3-4 minutes, turning often; add the chicken stock, making sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

6) Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and Italian seasonings if needed. Pour sauce over the chicken in the baking dish; cover with a lid or tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes. Reserve pan—do not wash!

7) Once the chicken has baked, carefully remove the chicken, onion, and garlic cloves to a platter and cover with lid or aluminum foil to stay warm.

8) Place the sauce in the large skillet that you cooked the meat in. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and milk with a little bit of the sauce.

9) Once it’s thoroughly mixed, slowly whisk the flour mixture back into the rest of the sauce. Add the butter to the sauce, raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes or until it’s nice and thick. Taste and re-season if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

The dish had a mellow, roasted garlic flavor rather than the aggressive, spicy flavor that I was expecting of so many cloves. I think mushrooms, a bit of bacon, and some white wine could have really elevated even beyond what it was but as it stood, it was damn good.

***If you wanted to make this minus the animal product, I bet it would taste just as good over chick’n; adjust cooking times accordingly.***

I’m a big fan of trying new veggies, especially ever since a friend of mine gave me a good piece of advice regarding food that you didn’t like as a kid. He told me to never say you don’t like a food until you have cooked it yourself. I’ve discovered that a lot of food that I ruled out as a kid (fish, Brussel sprouts, cooked carrots) I actually really like when I cook it. This week I decided to see if I could reclaim asparagus! I added the lemon juice, feta, and vinegar last-minute because it turns out that I don’t much like asparagus. But feta and lemon juice can save just about any vegetable side dish: I’ve used it on bland green beans, wilted spinach, and overcooked Brussel sprouts and I’ve got to say that it works every time. If you like asparagus, feel free to leave out the feta and lemon juice; if you wish you liked asparagus, maybe you should add it…

Roasted asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Toss asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

3) Add asparagus to cookie sheet; bake 15-30 minutes or until roasted (asparagus should be soft but not mushy).

4) Toss asparagus with lemon juice and feta; drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

So that’s all the recipes from before upheaval, now for the ones since. Now, I only had time to make a couple of recipes while we had a full kitchen at our disposal. I made an old favorite, cod and mashed potatoes with Indian-spiced carrots; that one never gets old for me. I have been wanting to make this for my mom for a while now and this seemed like the perfect occasion: it fit all of her dietary needs and is such a warm, homey meal. This made a TON of food and since our temporary host can’t eat black pepper (oops!), my mom and I ate on this all week.

My mom and I are at her clinic here in Atlanta Monday thru Friday from about 9am until 5pm. For breakfasts I have been mostly eating yogurt or fruit and my mom gets fed lunch and snacks at the clinic. Since I’m not a patient, I don’t so I had to think of some easy portable lunches for me. As usual, my thoughts turned to lunch wraps…

Wraps are easy to make, ahead of time or on the spot; they taste pretty good and can be really nutritionally balanced. With this wrap, I really wanted something that could be a hot lunch if I chose (the clinic has a toaster oven) and would be filling but still healthy.

Warm turkey-avocado wrap

Ingredients (for 2):

  • 2 tortillas or wraps
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 pieces turkey breast
  • 2 pieces sharp cheddar
  • Handful lettuce
  • 6 tomato slices
  • 6 cucumber slices
  • Handful shredded carrots
  • Sliced sweet onion
  • Instant dressing
  • Black pepper

Directions:

1) Start by mashing the avocado; spread half of the mash on each tortilla and sprinkle with black pepper.

2) Put 2 pieces of turkey on each wrap, right in the center, with the edge of the turkey about ½ inch away from the edge of the wrap.

3) Lay tomato slices down the center of the wrap right on top of the turkey; add blacked pepper and then cheese.

4) Put wraps into a preheated oven or toasted oven on broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese melts.

5) Remove wraps from toaster oven and top with tomato slices, lettuce, and shredded carrots.

6) Squeeze some instant dressing over the veggies and roll up wrap like a burrito; enjoy!

***This would be just as good (and probably as filling) without the turkey, so vegetarians/vegans, feel free to omit the meat.***

The wraps generally aren’t enough for me to stay full for 9 hours so I have been packing a small side salad that I can eat a couple of hours after my wrap. I found this super simple recipe on Foodgawker (of course) and made a couple of mods to it and it is delicious!

Very green salad

Adapted from a recipe at Salad Pride

Ingredients (for 3-4 salads):

  • Handful green-leaf lettuce
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 2 oz blue brie cheese, sliced
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Instant Dressing

Directions:

1) Wash and dry lettuce before putting it in a bowl.

2) Add chopped avocado, pear, cheese, and pumpkin seeds to lettuce; top with 1-2 tbsp salad dressing.

***Veg-friendly as is!!***

I accidentally added the pear—I misread the recipe and thought it was listed as an ingredient so I bought two at the grocery store. I only learned that it’s not in the original recipe when I started typing up this post! It is a nice addition, if I do say so myself. I also like how the salad looks: very green. Sorry that there are no pictures of this! I’ll try to get a pic the next time I make it and add it to the blog.So I am going to wrap this up for today but I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at what is going to be in my next post: pictures and stories of the last burn I went to (including costume pieces!) and plans for the next one in 5 weeks; TV gossip (remember when I used to do that?); tales of food in Atlanta; updates on my mom and Greek food constructed in our tiny “kitchen.”

Until next time!

Amaretto days and Star Trek nights

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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

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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?

Spicy food for a spicy day!

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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?

Chicken Wings and “cannibalistic” squash

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Two posts in one day! I’m getting good at this. This one is going to be short because I have friends over and I want to get back to the shenanigans that are currently ensuing without me.

Tonight we continued on our local produce track and used up more of our farmers’ market gets: antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken wings and squash! The Boyfriend is a big fan of buffalo wings; me? Not so much. (I attribute that to an unfortunate coincidence when I was struck down with a stomach virus hours after ingesting buffalo wings; but that’s a story for another day). Imagine The Boyfriend’s surprise when I suggested that we cook our new-bought wings buffalo-style. My only caveats were that the wings not be deep fried (for health’s sake) and that they not be so spicy that I couldn’t eat them (for my tongues sake; The Boyfriend has a much higher tolerance for spicy foods than I do. I personally think he is a bit of a spicy-food masochist). Using our new camping grill we were able to keep these babies as healthy as possible while imparting the wings with tons of flavor (and nice char marks).

Grilled Chicken Wings

Adapted from a recipe at Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Badia complete seasoning (or other similar complete seasoning)

For sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Sniper (or other hot sauce—Tabasco, etc)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350o and set a gas grill to heat up.

2) Rub wings with celery salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and complete seasoning.

3) Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the rest of the sauce ingredients until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

4) Put wings on baking sheet; ladle a teaspoon of sauce on top of each wing. Cook in oven for 8 minutes.

5) Remove wings from oven and finish cooking on grill, 3-5 minutes. Once wings are finished, add to bowl with remaining sauce and toss to cover.

Cannibalistic Stuffed Squash

Adapted from a recipe at Raptor Toe

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 small squash, of various type
  • 1 wedge Light Laughing Cow spreadable swiss
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese (or in my case, schmear)
  • 1 tbsp Gar-la-la (optional; or sub for 2 cloves raw garlic)
  • 1 garlic scape, chopped
  • 3 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + more, for drizzling
  • 2 tsp seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350o.

2) Slice each squash lengthwise; using a spoon (or in my case, knife) scoop out innards of each squash; set aside.

3) Place squash on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.

4) Chop up leftover squash innards. Add olive oil, jalapeno, mushrooms, innards, and chopped scape to pan; sauté for 5 minutes. Add Gar-la-la and both cheeses to pan; stir until cheese has melted and combination is well mixed.

5) Scoop mixture into squash boats; add breadcrumbs to top of squash and place in oven on broil for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly.

Ok, so why is it called cannibalistic squash? Well the original recipe called for the innards of the squash to be discarded. As I was making this recipe, we had a friend expectantly join us for dinner so I wanted to try to stretch the meal a  little farther; I decided to keep the innards and saute them with the rest of the squash stuffing. I guess I called it cannibalistic because I scooped out the insides of the squash and then stuffed them back in and that seemed a little funny and kind of messed up. Maybe not cannibalistic (because the squash wasn’t really eating itself) but, I don’t know, that’s what I thought of. Maybe I should work on my food-naming skills…

Easy Asian Chicken and Why Sleep is Important

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I’ve been feeling extra-emotional lately, I think due mainly to how little sleep I have been getting (thanks to my statistics midterm and ongoing thesis work). Anyway, I watched last night’s Glee episode Original Song today where New Directions competes against The Warblers and Aural Intensity at regionals and I won’t lie, I got a little teary. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it but I will say that I love what they have done with Kurt’s character and the direction the show took when they added Darren Criss. (And whatever happened to Charice? I was really looking forward to her being in the show. Maybe she’ll turn up at Nationals.)

Anyway, after I got happy-teary and sentimental-teary during Glee, I decided to make something that was easy enough that my sleepy-self could make it without messing it up. It wound up being quite delicious: Asian-style baked chicken, rice, and a veggie stir-fry. I made two sauces and doused the half of the chicken in each sauce.

Honey Garlic Sauce

Adapted from Living Lou

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder (or dried minced onion)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced

Dark Sauce

Adapted from Greedy Gourmet

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp white wine)
  • 1½ tbsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven 285°F.
  2. Lightly oil 2 small baking dishes. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper and arrange in the dish in a single layer. Drizzle over a little olive oil, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  3. Prepare the glaze(s) in the meantime. For each glaze, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined.
  4. Take the chicken out of the oven and increase the temperature to 350°F.
  5. Pour the glaze(s) over the drumsticks and wings in each baking dish.
  6. Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, turning several times, until the chicken is tender and nicely glazed.
  7. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.

The Best Stir-fry Veggies

Adapted from Pink Bites

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of assorted vegetables, chopped into bite size pieces*
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, sliced and white and green parts separated
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice powder

*I used 2 green onions and 2 whole carrots, plus approximately a half-cup of cauliflower, a half-cup of mushrooms, a half-cup of white onion, and a cup of red pepper.

  1. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, soy sauce and water; set aside.
  2. Bring a wok or a large pan to medium high heat and add the two oils.
  3. Quickly cook the  green onions (white parts only) until soft, about a minute.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook it for about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add all the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring it often. Cook vegetables 5 minutes.
  6. Add the sauce and continue cooking vegetables until they are done but still crunchy, about 5 more minutes. Add the green onions (green parts) on the last minute of cooking.
  7. Season vegetables with salt, pepper and a pinch of 5 spice powder.

The only thing that went a little weird was when I had to substitute something for honey. Apparently you can use 3/4 cup corn syrup with 1/2 cup sugar to replace 1 cup of honey. I tried to melt the sugar into the corn syrup so that it would be the consistency of honey, and that kind of worked. However, the faux-honey in the dark sauce burned in the oven and both sauces were a little thin, so I definitely recommend using honey rather than a substitute.

Other than that, this was a lovely meal; the veggies might have actually been my favorite part. In fact, I might go attack those leftovers now…

PS The reason sleep is important is because (I’m pretty sure that) it is positively correlated with your level of sanity. It is definitely negatively correlated with the number of tears shed in a week, at least for me, haha.