Tag Archives: dinner

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!

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?

Something for the vegetarians

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Today I have something for the vegetarians: I tried my hand at tofu! And it wasn’t terrible! In my quest for a different lunch this week (i.e. not salad), I stumbled upon this tofu recipe. I have to admit, I was pretty intimated. I have only made tofu once or twice before and every time, it was pretty bad. But for some reason, this tofu recipe caught my eye and I couldn’t forget it: I started to crave this tofu, even though I hadn’t tried it.

I decided to wrap this tofu up rather than sandwich it between bread: less messy, less bread-y, and I can pack more veggies into it! It is kind of an involved process: making the tofu, making the chipotle mayo, and then making the wrap. My advice? Whip up a batch of tofu and mayo when you have free-time (like 30 minutes before you want lunch) and make enough for the week. And then revel in the fact that your lunch is tastier and undoubtedly healthier than everyone else’s at the office 😉

Sweet-n-Spicy Seared Tofu

Adapted from a recipe at http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/09/16/easy-maple-tamari-seared-tofu/

Ingredients:

Seasoning rub:

  • Butt rub
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Chili powder
  • Salt and pepper

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp paprika

Other:

  • 14 ounce block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil

Directions:

1) Drain the water from your tofu. Squeeze dry with paper towels.

2) Slice tofu into 3/4 inch thick rectangles. Pat each individual rectangle dry with paper towel; set aside.

3) Mix together your spice rub; apply spice rub to both sides of tofu and let sit for a few minutes.

4) Mix together the marinade ingredients. Cover the tofu strips into the marinade; set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Ok, not so pretty. But tasty!

5) Add oil to a large nonstick skillet over high heat

6) When oil is hot, add the tofu to the pan (it will sizzle loudly but don’t move the tofu around: let it sit in pan uncovered). Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

7) Remove tofu from pan; let cool before serving.

Again, not as pretty as K Blog’s. Oh well.

Smoky Chipotle Mayo

Adapted from a recipe at http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2011/09/spicy-chipotle-tofu-sandwich.html

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup mayo or Vegenaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped (from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce)
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, paprika, chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to tasteSpicy Chipotle Tofu Sandwich Wrap
    Ingredients:
  • 1 wrap
  • 2 slices sweet-n-spicy tofu
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese spread
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp Chipotle Mayo
  • 2 planks of sweet-n-spicy tofu
  • Red-leaf lettuce
  • Tomato slices, chopped
  • Small handful shredded carrots
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • Slices of cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar/1 tsp olive oil


Directions:
1) Combine ingredients for chipotle mayo and place in fridge for at least ten minutes to chill.
2) Prep all of the veggies; gently toss in vinegar and olive oil.

3) Start assembling your wrap: heat wrap for 10 seconds in microwave. Spread Laughing Cow cheese spread on wrap; top with chipotle mayo and Dijon mustard. Add lettuce, tofu, tomato, cucumber, carrots, green onion, and avocado.

Review: The texture of the tofu wasn’t bad, thanks to the chewy and slightly crunchy exterior. I found the texture of the middle of the tofu a little weird for me but it wasn’t bad in the wrap. Very good flavor: sweet and mildly spicy, with a bit of smokiness.

I loved the chipotle mayo—so good! Again, mildly spicy, very smoky; flavors similar to those in the tofu but creamy instead of sweet; it kind of reminded me of Subway’s chipotle sauce. I toned down the mayonnaise-y taste by adding more chipotle sauce and brightened the flavor with lime juice.

The wrap as a whole was excellent: a ton of flavors and textures so my palate wasn’t bored. All of the veggies “hid” the texture of the tofu (you will have to excuse me, I’m still new to the ‘fu).

One note about tofu:  it is very moist. Like ridiculously moist. I used nearly an entire roll of paper towel drying it off. If you know of a better way to dry tofu, holla at me!

Moving on…

On a different topic, today I went back to healthy. It’s not that I haven’t been eating fairly healthy lately (bacon-piñata and epic sandwiches aside) but I have been struggling with working out. And I have been struggling with eating healthy as a life change and not as a temporary thing (aka a diet). I also get frustrated because I feel like I should be making huge strides (working out every day, never eating junk food, etc) and it’s tough and I get discouraged. So I am trying to reclaim “healthiness for life” in baby steps; one of my first steps was implementing yogurt for breakfast. I’ve read a lot about how adding low-fat/fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese to your diet can aid in weight-loss but since I don’t really drink milk, I hadn’t considered it. But then I discovered Greek yogurt: 160 calories, no fat, and lots of proteins. I also discovered that I hated it: it made me gag and want to pitch it in the garbage. But after suffering through a week’s worth of flavored yogurt (strawberry, blueberry, peach, vanilla, etc), I accidentally ate the plain yogurt. And that, that one I like. It tastes a bit like sour cream, which can be off-putting, so I combated that by turning it into a sort-of-parfait. And now I have a mega-healthy breakfast that I kind of like (and being that I only kind of like it, I have been eating it for 2 weeks straight now and I’m not sick of it yet!).

Greek Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 ½ tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Handful blueberries

Directions:

1) Stir honey and cinnamon into yogurt until well-mixed; add blueberries and enjoy.

Another step I am making towards healthy is a big step: 2-a-days. Basically, I am working out with Jillian Michaels twice a day between now and the end of next week. The deadline is because I am going out of town for a while; I figured that this intense period of time will be manageable because it isn’t permanent. It’s just a way to jump-start some weight-loss before transitioning into a more sustainable one-a-day workout. So I am doing Jillian’s Ripped in 30 DVD when I wake up and her yoga DVD before I go to bed. The Ripped in 30 is for body health, the yoga is for mental health. I just wanted to let you all know where it stands on my exercise; and to tell you, once again, how wonderful (awful?) Jillian’s workouts are. They are really designed to tear you down and build you up again; Jillian drives a hard workout and you hate her and your hate yourself for not being able to do it perfectly. But just when you think you can’t do it anymore, that you are going to give it, Jillian gives you an easier move to do and delivers a great motivational speech. And you find enough in you to carry on. I personally wonder if Jillian is the devil or a deity…

In my quest for a whole healthy day, I decided to make one of my favorite recipes for dinner: cod and mashed potatoes. I ran across this recipe at some point last year and The Boyfriend and I quickly made it one of our favorites. It was a bit of a hassle the first time that I made it but not that I’m familiar with the recipe, it’s pretty simple.

When writing this blog up, I realized that this is from the same source as to my favorite salsa recipe (that I will also be making this week)! Yay for Kayotic!

Steamed Cod and Taters

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/steamed-cod-champ-and-mustard-sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lb fresh cod
  • 1 ½ lb Yukon gold potatoes
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ – 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 spring onions or 5 green onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pepper and salt

Directions:

1) Peel the potatoes and boil them in lightly salted water until tender, about 25 minutes.

2) Mince the spring (or green) onions. Transfer them to a sauce pan, pour in the milk and when the potato timer has 10 minutes left, put them on the stove and simmer them over low heat for 5 minutes to soften up and heat the milk.

3) Stir heavy cream together with flour until smooth.

4) Heat broth; as soon as the broth starts to boil, pour in the cream/flour mix and stir intensely. Add water until you have a sauce consistency you like. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and Dijon mustard to taste.

5) Season the fish with salt and pepper; steam fish for 8 to 10 minutes.

Bamboo steamers are amazing–get one now if you don’t already have one. And don’t be afraid to really pack that fish in there.

6) Drain the potatoes, add the butter and mash them. Pour in the hot milk with scallions and a good bit of pepper; stir until well mixed.

7) To serve: divide the taters over the plates, top it with the steamed cod, and spoon mustard sauce on top.

***Ok, so this one is a little hard to veg-ify but I suppose if you replaced the chicken broth with veg broth, and found a good substitute for the cod (maybe roasted veggies?) than it could be done). You could even make it vegan if you used milk and butter replacements.***

Ok, I know it might sound a little weird to put fish on top of mashed potatoes and to cover the whole thing with mustard sauce. I know: it sounds a little bizarre. But don’t think of it as bizarre: think of it as exotic! And after you try one bite, you won’t be thinking of anything except how delicious it is. Talk about a party in your mouth! It’s exciting and it still tastes and feels like comfort food. Mmm…

Just like the blogger at Kayotic suggests, I always serve this with baked carrots. Besides the fact that these are delicious, the carrots are really easy to make; add that to the exotic Indian flavor and the great color pop on the plate next to the white fish and mashed potatoes, and you;ve got a hit!

My Favorite Carrots

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/easy-baked-carrots

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb carrots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Cinnamon, ground cumin, curry powder, ground ginger, and cayenne, to taste
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with tin foil.

2) Peel carrots and halve them lengthwise.

3) Combine butter with all of the seasonings and garlic. Add the butter mix to the carrots; use your hands to make sure every carrot is covered. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper over the carrots.

4) Cover the baking tray tightly with aluminum foil. Place them in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

5) After 40 minutes, remove the top foil; drizzle with about 2 tsp of olive oil and cook for another 10-15 minutes without the aluminum foil, until they’re slightly browned and caramelized.

Before I wrap it up today, I just wanted to tell you about a few big things in my life: I have 2 job interviews this week (yay!) and I am going to a burn in Atlanta in 2 weeks (double yay!). In addition, I will be spending a few weeks after the burn in Atlanta with my mom. The last one is not really a yay but I am looking forward to spending time with my mom and my friends in ATL. Expect to see a lot more vegetarian recipes while I’m there because my mom is a recent convert to vegetarianism. So my blog question for the day is: what’s your favorite vegetarian recipe??

Until next time…

Chop suey and holy mole chili

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Chop suey and holy mole chili

Since we just finished the leftovers from last week, I’m (again) overdue for posting the recipes. So here they are! These aren’t veggie-friendly as they stand but look for the ***astericks*** under the recipe for swaps!

 First on the list, chop suey. Chop suey literally means “assorted pieces” and it’s a stir-fry dish often consisting of a few types of meat and/or seafood and veggies. Because of this, it is very easy to customize chop suey to your taste preference or dietary restrictions.

 Chop suey

Adapted from a recipe at Angsarap

Ingredients:

  • 3 baby bok choy, cleaned
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 12 pieces baby corn
  • ½ head of broccoli
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 4 oz water chestnuts
  • 4 oz bamboo shoots
  • ¾ lb shelled shrimps
  • ½ lb pork belly, diced
  • 10 oz chicken breast
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 3 tsp cornstarch (dissolved in ¼ cup water)
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

 Directions:

1) Start by chopping everything and grouping them accordingly:

  • Chop garlic and red onion; add to the same bowl and set aside (we’re going to call this Bowl #1, or B1for short).

  • Chop broccoli, baby corn (if desired), and mushroom; set aside in same bowl (B2).

  • Chop bok choy and red pepper and add to same bowl; add water chestnuts, carrots, and bamboo shoots to bowl as well (B3). Set aside.

  • Chop shrimp, pork belly, and chicken.

2) Heat up a wok to high heat; add oil and B1 and sauté for 5 minutes.

3) Add pork and chicken; stir fry for 2 minutes.

4) Add B2 and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes.

5) Add B3 and shrimp and keep stir-frying for 2 more minutes.

6) Add chicken stock, soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce and dissolved cornstarch; bring to a rapid boil.

7) Turn stove to simmer; add sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer 5 minutes or until you’re satisfied with the look/smell/taste of the chop suey. Serve over jasmine rice.

***To make this recipe vegetarian friendly, simply omit the meat and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. You could use extra firm tofu in this recipe or faux chicken breast or you could just add more veggies to make up for the lack of meat. Easy peasy.***

I enjoyed a nice, cold Saranac pumpkin ale while I was making dinner. That is a nice thing about NY state: lots of local breweries.

The other recipe I made this week was chili. This one was significant because I have never made chili by myself. I have only made my mom’s chili recipe which is awesome (and given to her by an old lady in the supermarket) and I wanted to try something different. So I stumbled across this chili mole recipe using ground turkey and it sounded like something fit for folks with adventurous appetites.

 Holy Mole Turkey Chili

Adapted from a recipe at Gonna want seconds

 Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, cinnamon to taste
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 14 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups beef stock
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz cans small white beans, rinsed, drained
  • 6 oz mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Oregano, ground cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, cinnamon to taste
  • Optional Toppings
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Chalula hot sauce

Directions:

1) Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes.

2) Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey, mushrooms, and red pepper; stir until the turkey is no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon.

3) Stir in chili powder, red pepper flakes, cocoa powder, salt, black pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon.

4) Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon.

5) Mix in stock and tomato sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6) Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. For best results: refrigerate overnight; remove fat before warming over medium-low heat.

7) Ladle chili into bowls; add cilantro, a few drops of Chalula hot sauce, and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt to bowls.

***This is a super easy recipe to vegify: use veg-friendly ground-beef replacement instead of ground turkey and swap veg stock for beef stock. Bam! Done.***

Review:

This chili was really easy to make and it was a big hit. I wish the chocolate flavor would have been stronger but it was still delicious. I have never added sour cream to chili before (I was raised on a “cheddar cheese in our chili” family) so I was pleasantly surprised by how yummy it was. And by using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, I saved myself the fat and the calories. Yay! I love cilantro so I was a big fan of adding it to the bowls (another first for me!).

And now I think I am finally caught up on all of the recipes! It might be a few days before I cook anything interesting: a friend of ours just moved in with us! We haven’t seen him in a while so we are doing a lot of catching up and hanging out and eating out. But I want to establish a more normal posting schedule so that readers can know for sure when I’ll have a new blog up. So that’s what I’m working on. Until next time!

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

Working on my mussels

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Working on my mussels

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

Onto the healthy recipes!

Chipotle Turkey Wrap

Adapted from a recipe by College Girl Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 wrap

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

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

Directions:

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

2) Spread Laughing Cow cheese on warmed wrap.

Add hot sauce on top of cheese.

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

.

4) Top with cilantro,

lettuce,

carrots, and drizzle with olive oil vinaigrette.

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

Fold in the right side

and then the left.

Cut in half and serve.

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

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

Mussels with Coconut Curry Lime Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Verses from my Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curried Grilled Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash

Sauce:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

4) Grill veggies about 4 minutes per side.

5) Add lemon juice to veggies and serve.

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

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

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

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