Tag Archives: spicy

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…






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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…

Barbacoa? I hardly know ya!

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Barbacoa? I hardly know ya!

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

Pork Barbacoa
From a recipe adapted from Joelen’s Blogspot

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

1) Chop the garlic cloves and slice the onion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegetarian crispy potato tacos

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Vegetarian crispy potato tacos

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Crispy Potato Tacos

Adapted from a recipe at Shop, cook, make

Ingredients:

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

 Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2) Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes.

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

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

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

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

So much tasty

Close-up on the crispy potato goodness

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

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

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

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

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

Beer-liscious Margaritas

For 2 margaritas

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

3) Fill to the top with beer and enjoy!

Beautiful bubbles!

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

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

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

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

Standard

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…