Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

Despite my (nominal) efforts to stay fairly healthy, I still fall behind sometimes with the simplicity of seamlessweb and the abundance of 5 dollar chinese lunch specials.  I guess I went too many days without vitamin c/greens because I have recently succumbed to a nasty cold.  This cold really hit hard and has me lying in bed and craving and eating so (too) much (hot and sour) soup.  Desperate to restore some balance to my diet I decided to go for a good mix of vitamin c and greens.

Start with:
lettuce of your choice
Butternut Squash (I bought mine already peeled and cut up--pretty cheap at TJ and really worth it to avoid to hassle of cutting up a squash!)
Olive Oil, salt, pepper, hot paprika
Either: Dried Currants, Cherries, Craisins, Golden Raisins
Nuts (I've still got an abundance of TJ's sliced almonds so I went with those)
Goat Cheese
1 can of chickpeas

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cut up the squash into small pieces.  Cover in olive oil, salt, pepper and hot paprika.
Roast for about 20-25 minutes stirring once.  The squash should be tender and slightly caramelized. (It's hard to resist eating the pan once you've tasted one to "see if it's ready"!)
They should look like this:
While the squash is in the oven, rinse off the chickpeas.
Place the lettuce in a bowl and in a circle place: a small handful of goat cheese crumbles, nuts, dried fruit, the squash, and chickpeas

As for the dressing, drizzling olive oil and balsamic should work fine but I go with an easy dressing with an olive oil base+ a dash of: grey poupon, honey, lemon, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper
It's easy, you can play with the proportions until you get something that tastes good and goes with every salad, and it stays fresh in the fridge for a loooong time!

The salad was pretty simple and delicious, enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Slaw (with almonds, craisins and apricot mustard vinaigrette)

I've been looking at fall recipes lately and this one caught my eye.  I saw it on a few blogs and it always made me curious--a slaw with some sort of crunchy nut, a juicy dried fruit and a sweet and tangy dressing.  Almost like a dessert slaw!  I love cabbage, it brightens up sandwiches, salads and tacos and I always like finding a new use for it.  I would make a few changes to this recipe, but I definitely recommend try it out--I bet it would make a good addition to the Thanksgiving table!

Start with:
1 tart green apple
1 head of green/napa cabbage or a prepared mix (fresher always tastes better, but this is all I had on hand today)
Grain Mustard
Apricot preserves (I initially bought this for ChickenDorisGordon but haven't had a chance to make it yet---don't worry grandma, I'm going to do it soon and tell you all about it!
Nuts: sliced almonds are super cheap at Trader Joe's, but I've seen pecans or walnuts in similar recipes (either candied or plain) and they look like they'd taste just as good
Olive Oil and Vinegar

FYI: while the grain mustard is really cheap at Trader Joes (about $1.50) but I honestly would go with a different brand--I found this mustard to be really lacking in flavor.

Start by cutting up the apple into small sticks.  If you have a mandoline I'm sure that makes it much easier but the old fashioned way works just as well!
 For the dressing put 2 tablespoons of the apricot preserves, honey and grain mustard into a bowl and mix.  I also put a touch of olive oil and red wine vinegar.  If you have it, I'd use apple cider vinegar or any other sweeter flavored vinegars.
Toss the dressing, apples and slaw together and add in: nuts of your choice and dried fruit of your choice.  I put in both craisins and golden raisins and I thought they were delicious together.
Mix well!  Add vinegar to taste.

Enjoy =)  Upon reflection, I found the dish a little too sweet so I would play around with the proportions a bit.  Try a stronger mustard and a little less honey.  Maybe some more vinegar too.  Let me know how it turns out!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Eggplant Surprise (leftovers!!)

This is just a quickie idea on what to do with some leftover prosciutto (from the last pasta post) other than eat it straight from the deli bag.  I had some eggplant lying around that was going to go bad if I didn't use it, so I figured I'd cook it up with the prosciutto.  I also saw a leftover bottle of roasted red peppers and figured, hey why not throw that in too, it's all in the Italian theme right?  And what could make a combination of eggplant, prosciutto and roasted red peppers more delicious?  Cheese.  Cheese is pretty much the only answer when asked to make something already delicious MORE delicious.
You're probably wondering where this is all going.  So here it is:
Cut the eggplant in thin slices, spray them lightly with pam or olive oil and broil them for about 8 minutes until they're soft.
Cover with red peppers:

And the prosciutto! And a bit of marinara sauce (or none if you don't have any, I'm sure it'd still be delicious)
Smother in cheese and broil until all melty and bubbling.
Hmm this might not show how delicious it was.  But trust me, it was.  Try it out with any leftovers you have around.  Zucchini and chicken could substitute for the eggplant, and any number of goodies could be used in place of the peppers and prosciutto.  Just don't forget the cheese!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower, Tomato and Prosciutto Pasta

School is definitely getting harder, and the days are getting colder (except for this weird burst of warmth which I wish would continue for just a few more days....) which basically means the equivalent of carb, pasta, fried foods are all definitely my friends right now.  
I saw this recipe on a few blogs and have been dying to try it, but always forget about it when I'm actually in the grocery store, or when I do have the ingredients, I'm too tired to actually cook.  This time, I remembered to pick up the prosciutto and since I already had sage leftover from the Chicken Thighs recipe and a big cauliflower sitting in my fridge, I knew I had no excuse not to whip it up, even after a long day of studying and class.

Mmmm the pictures of this pasta are making me hungry all over again!  This pasta is an amazing, well rounded delicious and fairly healthy meal that is great for leftovers.  I am definitely glad I ended up making it.

What you'll need:
any type of pasta (I went with whole wheat spaghetti)
1 cauliflower
About 1/4 pound of prosciutto (try domestic prosciutto, it's cheaper)
Italian cheese (I used pecorino, but parmesan or mozzarella would be nice as well) 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and begin by boiling the pasta.  Set the pasta aside with a little bit of the pasta water.

Then, cut the cauliflower up into little pieces like this:

Put the cauliflower in the oven and stir occasionally, until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  This will take about 15 minutes.  
When the cauliflower is in the oven, put the tomatoes in a small pot with a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and turn the heat on low.  While the cauliflower is in the oven, the tomatoes will get soft and sweet, a perfect light sauce for the pasta.
Chop up the garlic, sage and prosciutto and throw it on the cauliflower when the cauliflower is done.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Your kitchen will smell amazing by this point!
When everything is ready, toss it all together and sprinkle cheese on top.  

Delicious!  Save some leftovers for lunch the next day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fish Tacos

Recently, I've been on a Mexican food binge.  I can't seem to get enough of it, especially the real delicious kind of Mexican food with hot sauces, vibrant flavors and cheap bills.  What's caught my eye especially though are fish tacos.  I tried them for the first time a few weeks ago and they strike me as the perfect meal--softness, crunchiness, meaty and flexitarian-friendly goodness.  I am obsessed with them!  So, obviously, I tried to make my own version of them after visiting Fairway for the first time ever.  (Yes, I live within a 15 minute walk and I hadn't made it there since I moved in!)
The tacos I dreamed of had a few components:

small tortillas
carmelized onions (1 large white onion)
guacamole (2 avocados and a few cherry tomatoes)
a white flaky fish (2 Tilapia filets+salt, pepper, chili powder, lime)
Slaw (green cabbage+shaved carrots, sriracha, light mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper)
Cheese (your choice!)
I like to load up my tacos but feel free to leave any of those components out.
Slaw: cut the green cabbage very thinly and shave some carrots into a bowl.  Add in mayo, sriracha, salt, pepper and lime juice to your level of creaminess and spiciness.

Next, the easiest guac you'll ever make!  I bought 2 really ripe avocados and mashed them up with a fork.  I washed and cut up cherry tomatoes into fourths for "delicious treasures of juicy goodness in the guacamole."  Salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste!

I wasn't able to get a good pic of the caramelized onions but just cut a yellow onion into strips and let it simmer in a pot with a little olive oil and sugar while you're cooking everything else.  Stir occasionally so the onion doesn't burn.

Last but not least, FISH: I've been really afraid of cooking fish.  I'm not sure why--maybe because I didn't really eat cooked fish for a long time but regardless of the reason, I have never bought or cooked fish from a grocery store before.  This all changed with the sweet, flaky, CHEAP (2 fillets for $6!) Tilapia I bought from fairway.
I covered the fillets with salt, pepper, lime juice and chili powder and put them in a large skillet.  I cooked them until they were opaque and flipped them over once.

Assemble your tacos!!

Ahhh I forgot one thing--Oaxaca cheese.  I saw this at fairway and snatched it up.  It's a Mexican cheese that tastes kind of like mozzarella and is described as "melting cheese."  I put it on top of the tortillas as I heated them up in a pan and it added just the right touch of saltiness.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hannah's Brownies

Another celebrity post by my fellow law student, Hannah...Enjoy!

Another Friday, another long week of first semester law school behind me. What better way to reward myself than with a quick and easy recipe for ooey, gooey brownies?! And here's all it took...

I picked up some brownie batter mix and chocolate frosting mix at my favorite supermarket on the UWS, Trader Joe's. The best thing about this brownie mix is that it is "reduced guilt." But seriously, one look at the nutrition facts and you know at 130 calories per brownie, you cannot go wrong.
Ingredients for the Brownies:

1 box of Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Brownie Mix
Skim Milk
3 tablespoons of Skippy's Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter

I combined the pre-made dry mix with skim milk (instead of fat-free plain yogurt like the box instructions said). This is mainly because I did not have plain yogurt on hand, but also because I knew I was going to add some richness to the batter with peanut butter. I carefully stirred together all of the ingredients by hand. An electric mixer would have worked just as well, if not even better.
Once I had sprayed my baking pan, I poured in the rich brownie mixture and set it to bake  at 350 degrees. When I saw the brownie slowly rising and I was able to pull out a clean fork with no bits of batter, I knew I had achieved brownie heaven!

Ingredients for the Chocolate Frosting:

1 box of Trader Joe's Chocolate Frosting Mix
Hot Water
Unsalted Butter
(proportions are written out on the back of the frosting box)

I was super excited to whip up this frosting. Chocolate frosting would be the perfect, decadent topping to my brownies. This box mix was quick and easy to combine. All I had to do was soften the butter, heat up some water, and combine with the package mix. I stirred and stirred until everything was smooth and glossy.

When the brownie was starting to smell up my apartment with all kinds of deliciousness, I removed the pan from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. I then carefully frosted the brownie and let it sit for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the frosting had hardened sufficiently to cut into it. Finally, using a clean knife, I cut small squares out of the pan and dusted my little brownie treats with powdered sugar. Bon appetite!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicken Thighs and Polenta Fries

This dinner was somewhat of a departure from the past few meals I've made.  As it gets colder, I've been craving less "fresh" food and more comfort food.  This dinner hit the spot, and it was easy to make, too!

I stole the chicken recipe from The Wednesday Chef, and it came out beautifully.  All you need are some chicken legs with thighs attached, dijon mustard, panko crumbs and whatever herbs you like with your chicken (I like rosemary and sage-thyme would be good as well!)

Rub each leg with about a tablespoon of dijon mustard.  I used Grey Poupon, but you can use any brand.
Sprinkle the herbs, salt and pepper on top, and then then cover the leg in panko.  Drizzle each leg with a bit of butter and pop them into the oven for an hour at 325 degrees. 

The sides were delicious too.  I love french fries.  Like, lick the bowl clean kind of love for any type of fried potato.  Tonight I decided to try out making a variation from polenta.  I bought a pre-made package of polenta (it comes in a tube) and sliced it in the shape of fries.  I sprinkled them with olive oil and sea salt and put them in the oven for the last 20 minutes while the chicken cooked.  If the fries aren't crispy when the chicken is done, turn up the temp and keep them in for a few minutes longer.
Mine came out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and sooo delicious!  I mixed some rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a touch of dijon mustard together with mayo for a creamy dipping sauce for the "fries."
I ate them all!

And last but not least, a little bit of greens.  I had some cherry tomatoes lying around so I cut them in half and sauteed them with a bit of balsamic vinegar and garlic.  I threw in some broccoli rabe (which I had blanched like the green beans while the chicken was cooking) and in under five minutes I had a great side dish.
Make this quick dinner in under an hour and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Farmer's Market Green Bean and Tomato Salad

I can't help myself when it comes to farmer's markets.  Even if I wander through the stalls for a while without any intention of buying, I must MUST try a sip of freshly made apple cider (my favorite!) or "taste" (is it really a taste if I "taste" four, or maybe....five times??) a sweet New Jersey cherry tomato.

This weekend I had to have these multi-colored green beans.  They were beautiful--purple, green, yellow and instead of cooking them to death, I thought I'd make a salad so they could still (somewhat) retain their pretty natural colors.
Begin with:
Green Beans 
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Clean the beans first, then chop off the ends.  Start boiling a pot of salted water, but have an ice water bath ready.  You are going to blanch (! this was my first time doing a fancy cooking move, all learned from Smitten Kitchen) the beans.

The purple beans lost their color in the boiling water, which was pretty sad.  Keep them in the water for about three minutes, or until they are tender but haven't lost their crunch.  Then, throw them in the ice water so they stop cooking.  Chop them up into pretty pieces after you've dried them off.

Mince the shallot, or chop it up finely.  Put about a third to a half cup of olive oil in a pan, and when it is heated, throw the shallots in.  It'll take just a few seconds for the shallots to cook through, just long enough to take the raw, biting edge off for a salad, and just enough time for it to fill your kitchen with amazing smells.
Then, put the oil and vinegar in a bowl.  Put about two tablespoons of red wine vinegar in, a splash of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  

Chop up whatever (farmer's market or Amish Market) tomatoes you have in the fridge.  I used Amish Market "cocktail" tomatoes.  Throw these, the green beans and the dressing all together.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hannah's Lemon Squares

Because I am a part of this generation:
I have a lot of friends avoiding the real life at various law schools around the country.  

Just kidding, they aren't slackers, and (most) aren't living at home, but I do have friends all suffering through the same 1L pain across the US.  They all happen to like to cook, and so once in a while I'll post a "celebrity shot," or a post from another law school student.
Here's Hannah's Lemon Squares. Enjoy!

Hannah's Lemon Squares

It was nearing Friday sundown and after a week full of hours of class and my first memo assignment, I needed a creative outlet. I also happened to have a craving for something sweet. That's when the idea hit me. I was going to whip up some lemon squares and treat myself after another long week of first year law school.

I did a quick Google search and I used the following recipe for inspiration:

At only 118 calories each, I figured I was on the right track to a fabulous and fuss-free Friday night dessert...

Here are the ingredients and proportions I used:
  • Crust:
  • 1/8  cup  granulated sugar
  • 2  tablespoons of  butter, softened
  • 1/2  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/8  cup  granulated sugar
  • 4  teaspoons  grated lemon rind
  • 1/3  cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  teaspoons  powdered sugar


The first step was to preheat the oven to 350°.
Then I got to work on the crust. Using my Cuisinart mixer for the first time, I beat 1/8 cup of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter at medium speed until it was nice and creamy in texture.
Next, I added the flour into the sugar and butter mixture until the consistency resembled that of small crumbs. I couldn't believe it but my crust mixture was complete! There's no doubt my Cuisinart made it quick and easy.
After, I emptied the crust into a baking pan and gently pressed it down with my fingers. I put the crust into the oven at 350° for about 15 minutes (until I noticed a light brown color).

While the crust was in the oven, I started on mixing my lemon batter. First, I grated my lemons, using their fragrant rind. Then, I beat eggs in my Cuisinart, added in the sugar, the grated lemon rind, fresh squeezed lemon juice, flour, a dash of salt, and powdered sugar.
In the meantime, I noticed the crust was ready. I removed it from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, I poured my lemon batter over the crust. My kitchen was starting to smell like dessert.

I baked the crust and lemon batter at 350° for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until the lemon topping was set.

I cooled the dessert on a wire rack and then I added a decorative touch by sifting powdered sugar over the top.

The last step was to carefully cut medium to small size squares out of the pan and finally, to enjoy!

I know that I'll be making these squares again soon. Not only were they simple, but more importantly, my bite-size treats were a sweet and rewarding way to end a tough week. Bon appetite!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quick Leftovers Idea

Law students like me have little time, little money and very little energy to think about what to eat during the week.  Sunday night dinners are ideal for leftovers that I eat throughout the week in various forms.  

Here's an idea for when you have a little leftover (still delicious) steak and veggies from the night before:
Stack a little steak, asian slaw (basically cabbage with a little oil and rice wine vinegar) sliced cukes on top of your bread of choice.  Drizzle with leftover peanut sauce and spice it up with sriracha.  Fabulous, filling, and an excellent way to clean out your fridge.  
Besides being yummy, the sandwich also happened to pass my law school lunch test: 3 hours of property law reading without snacking.  
It is now on my go-to for week day lunch.

Korean Spiced Steak and Peanut Noodles

I love love love sesame noodles from my favorite Chinese restaurant in my hometown.  I have yet to find an equally satisfying dish at a Chinese restaurant near my apartment so I thought I would try and recreate these noodles by myself.  They came out well, although if you are trying to replicate the dish and prefer a heftier noodle, I'd recommend using spaghetti or venturing down to a Chinese or Japanese supermarket (or just good old M2M on 3rd avenue and 11th street) for some legit asian noodles.

I started with: creamy peanut butter, ground ginger, toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds and sriracha sauce (not pictured, but you can use red pepper flakes as a substitution, if you want some spice).

The base of the noodles are really simple.  Put about a cup of peanut butter in a small pot and turn the heat on low.  Stir it constantly.  Add about a a quarter cup of soy sauce, and a dash of rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil.  Sprinkle some ground ginger and garlic, and then taste it as you go to add more if you like more spice.
There is no set recipe for these noodles because you can make them as hot or mild, as peanut-y or soy-y as you'd like.  Go crazy with the sriracha to make it spicy! 
Cook the noodles to your desired doneness.  Toss the noodles with the sauce and garnish with sesame seeds and if you like, chopped scallions.
These noodles are really good warm, better when they've cooled down, and best eaten the next day cold, possibly even for breakfast....

As for the meat portion of this meal, I saw some Korean spiced sesame marinated petite beef fillets on sale on freshdirect and bought them.  I (aka my grillmaster friend who does all the manly grilling--why is it a man's job again?) simply popped them onto my grilled pan and cooked them through to a medium rare.
The beef looks kind of nasty when its still rare.  It looks much better like this:
It looks even better on my plate, with some sesame noodles and a side salad made with romaine, tomatoes, cukes and a ginger miso vinaigrette I picked up from a nearby Japanese restaurant:
Leftover ideas on the next post...

Quickie Tomato and Avocado Salad

I first tried this combination at a classy restaurant in Milan, Italy when I was studying abroad.  It seems like such a simple salad, and it really is, but it's a fabulous side dish, or a please-make-me-one-every-day salad for people like my dad.  

I like to use campari tomatoes, but these are a little expensive so use whatever smaller tomatoes  they are selling at the farmers market that day or weekend (in any color--I like to use a mix of red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, too).  

Cut bigger tomatoes in fourths, and cherry tomatoes in half.  Cut the avocado in chunks as well.  Toss everything with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Chop up a little basil (take it from the garden if you are lucky enough to have the space for one in your backyard--I don't, but I definitely like to steal it from people that do--thanks mom).  Sprinkle the basil on top, along with some sea salt.


Stuffed and Grilled Figs

MMM these were so delicious!  I'm not sure what season figs are, all I know is that the Amish Market (yes, I'm obsessed) sells them for a very nice price (a small carton filled with all those pictured above for under $3!) and they are so delicious.  I eat them plain, with yogurt, or drizzled with a little honey.  

Tonight I decided to make a savory side dish and stuffed them with little chunks of goat cheese (also cheap from the Amish Market!).  I (aka my sidekick grill master) put them on the grill and covered them for just a few minutes until the goat cheese melted.  They are delicious like that, or you can throw a few chopped nuts on top.  I chose to top them with walnuts, and it turned out to be a wonderful, sweet and savory, soft and crunchy piece of goodness that I eventually saved for dessert because of how rich it was.

It is a wonderful side dish for a bbq dinner, or a delicious and sophisticated dessert!

Figs, leftover eggplant bruschetta, typical tomato and avocado salad, some fresh bread and my favvvv (ok I promise my next post won't have zucchini in it!) grilled zucchini.