Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Sometimes I just get the urge to make and eat a lot of vegetables.  I have to say that I'm pretty happy about these urges right about now.  Every other day, I seem to find myself eating three- to four-course meals, then inhaling a pile of desserts.  Just to make sure they're good, ya know.  I'm doing some self-appointed quality control testing.

While I love hanging out with the family and trying to figure out how food much I can actually fit into my stomach, it's time to give myself a reality check.  Christmas is over and I really need to reign things in.  It's probably a wise idea to kickstart this healthy eating with stuffed squash.  Only good things can come from roasting acorn squash, and then stuffing it with brown rice, cranberries, and pecans.

In all honesty, this is my first time making a dish using acorn squash and I'm pretty proud of how this turned out.  The recipe is so easy that it would be quite difficult for me to fail at making this.  Since I'm pretty much still nursing a food hangover (4 days later, oof), simplicity is the name of my game.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spicy Tomato & Blue Cheese Soup

Happy Merry Christmas Eve!

I know we're all in the middle of eating Christmas cookies, drinking egg nog (spiked, of course!), and singing carols.  But, contrary to popular belief, we cannot live on these things alone.  Hence, I'm bringing you some soup.  Who's in on this with me?

In case you're still hesitating, let me tell you that sriracha and blue cheese are involved in this situation.  Get you some soup bowls and sit down.  Now dig in.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Sugar Scrub

In case you're wondering, you can eat this.

Not that I have tried it or anything.  I'm just saying...

I've begun an obsession as of late with bath scrubs.  I'm pretty sure it has to do with the weather being colder and other such things.  So imagine my surprise and excitement when I found this recipe to make my own sugar scrub.  I don't know if you know this, but those little pots of sugar, oil, and really nice scents can get pretty pricey.  Making my own would not only allow me to save a little money this holiday season, but I could also customize my scrub to my own liking.  I'm just winning all over the place.

Let's also think ahead and if you still need a holiday gift, you can make this, put it in a fancy package and boom!  You have solved your problem.  I did this myself this past weekend when my girlfriends and I had our annual Secret Santa gift exchange dinner.  That dinner was epic, as per usual.  Can we say "fried chicken and eggnog waffles" at Melba's in Harlem.  I'm still dying just thinking about that dish.  Trust me, you need it in your life.

I'm pretty sure you also need this scrub.  This scrub is a combination of chocolate and coconut and sugar.  Nothing can go wrong here.  Nothing.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Baked Eggnog French Toast with Cranberries and White Chocolate


Let's get Christmas-y up in here.

I've been super busy lately traveling for my job, but this is just too good to keep away from you guys.  Baked eggnog french toast is the new business.  And we add some cranberries and white chocolate to make it festive.  I will definitely keep this breakfast item in the repertoire for the future.  I think I can also tweak this to make it work for various seasons.  Not that this particular recipe isn't completely amazing.  It is.

I got the luck of the draw this month when I received the Cheese Curd in Paradise blog for the Secret Recipe Club.  Ashley has blogged about so many recipes that I want to indulge in, but unfortunately I can only choose one for this post.  That special "one" turned out to be this recipe.  Once I laid eyes on it, my mind was immediately made up.  I made this recipe when my family came to visit me the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It was the perfect indulgent post-Thanksgiving brunch item and we all fell in love with it.  I allegedly had two servings.  Let me tell you that it was worth it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jamaican Beef Patty Flatbread

I don't even know how this thing happened.

My work schedule was a bit wonky last week, and at the last minute I ended up working from home the entire week.  On or about Tuesday, I realized that I didn't have enough real food to sustain me much longer.  I had to go to the grocery store.  But, for various reasons (most of which had to do with something called "laziness"), I never made it.

And so began the process of existing on coffee, Babybel miniature cheese, and turkey wraps from the restaurant across the street.  Yeah.  Low points.

So I did what I do best: I raided my freezer.  In it, I found 1/2 lb of ground beef, two flatbreads, and frozen peas.  Things were not looking up...until I found a recipe that would let me use all of this good stuff.

OK, I tweaked a few things, but are you surprised about that?  You shouldn't be.

Growing up in the Bahamas, I have been eating Jamaican beef patties as a snack since I was a child.  They will always take me back to the time of carefree living and remind me of being back in Nassau.  I figured I should probably take a stab at my own version of this recipe.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Cups

Let's recreate some summer goodness.  I can't ever get enough of Mexican-inspired cuisine and this is no exception.  While the weather has been slightly warmer in the past few days, it has still been much cooler than my preferred 60-70 degrees F.  Let's warm ourselves up.

I actually made these cups as appetizers for my housewarming party earlier this year.  However, in all the brouhaha, I never got shots of the final items.  In fact, I remember it being mid-party and wondering why my apartment was so warm (this place is always freezing!) and realizing my oven was preheating for these little things...which were chilling out in the kitchen and definitely not in the oven.

I can't even take a good way.  They're tiny, which means that they're automatically cuter than cute.  Also, I'm certain I'm ingesting fewer calories than if I were to eat a huge wonton filled with this enchilada mix.  Obviously.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Livin' The Life 12/1/2013

I haven't done one of these posts in a while, so while I'm digesting Thanksgiving meal numero umpteen, here's a roundup of my latest set of iPhone pictures.

I took a trip to Baltimore in early November.  I spent some time on a
street with cobblestones and colorful autumn leaves.  I also liked 
this sign, even though I don't like olives.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

Hi friends! Before anyone says anything, yes, I know this is Thanksgiving week, but no...

No, I do not have a turkey dish for you.

No, I do not have Thanksgiving sides for you.

No, I do not have anything related to pumpkin for you.

But what I do happen to have is some sausage and peppers.  Eat it.  It's good for you.

I mean....I don't even know what to tell you about this.  I've been developing a love of sweet peppers over the past few months. Working in Philadelphia all the time is wearing me down! I've always loved sausage, so when I saw this recipe, I was all over it. Wait, I get to use my crockpot too? I'm done.

So um, by the way, I popped some avocado on top of this because I maybe forgot to throw in the cheese.  WHAT?!?!? Maybe Philly hasn't gotten their hooks in me just yet.  I threw this sausage and pepper mix on top of some egg noodles, but I wouldn't be mad if you chose to toast some buns and get your sandwich on.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sriracha Hummus


I have been waiting for-e-vahhh to make this hummus!!  

Since I moved to a new apartment back in April, my old grocery store is not as easily accessible as it once was.  I've been craving hummus for a while and I kept searching in various stores for tahini, a key ingredient. After 6 months, I finally spotted some, so I immediately set to work on my next hummus variation.

On another note, did you hear about how the U.S. narrowly averted a sriracha shortage?  Seriously, the Huy Fong plant in California, which makes sriracha, almost shut down.  Things still aren't 100% sorted out, but until they are, you have no reason not to indulge in this spicy hummus.  It only takes (about) 2 tablespoons of your sriracha reserves, so you can make several batches before needing to repurchase more hot sauce.  See, I'm looking out for you.  Now go forth and enjoy!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bailey's Brownies

I want to have a heart-to-heart with you about Bailey's.

You see, the holidays are upon us.  Starbucks says that they are.  Don't worry about that little Thanksgiving thing in between now and then.  Focus.

We need to start trimming trees, decking the halls, and adding Bailey's to every darn drink we pour. But let's not limit ourselves.  I want to eat it too.  Is that strange?  No.  No, it is not.  Don't look at me that way.  This is how I make friends.  I put booze in a bunch of desserts and go forth into the world.  Ok, that's not completely true.  It's close though.

Can we add brownies to that list of desserts?  Yes.  Yes, we can.  Because we are adults and we do what we want!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beer Caramelized Mushroom & Onion Tart


I want to eat all the mushroom and onion things!  This tart allows me to do just that.  I used to be really into tarts, and by being "really into tarts", that means that I used to make them a whole lot more than I do now.  I really enjoyed that they were so easy to whip and so I could have a quick and tasty meal.  In the past week, I have had numerous work obligations, a surprise conference to attend, a 24-hour trip down to Baltimore and back, and an emergency stop to the dentist to check out a filling.  So, all I really want is a hot freaking lunch to get me through each day.

Enter Sid from Sid's Sea Palm Cooking.  I was assigned Sid's blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club, and it was pretty difficult to choose which recipe I wanted to make.  However, after I saw the mushroom and caramelized onion tart, I was sold.  In fact, I was so excited that I decided to pour beer in the pan of veggies as well.  Sorry,  Hope you don't mind, Sid!

Oh, and there's goat cheese involved in this business as well.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Banana Speculoos Microwave Brownie

I can't be the only person obsessed with the Starbucks chocolate smoothie, right? ... 

OK, I'm pretty sure 90% of the people reading this have no idea what I'm talking about.  Let me drop some knowledge: Starbucks makes protein shake smoothies!  The next time you go there, check out the menu and you'll find it.  It's pretty much overshadowed by any and every holiday/seasonal/espresso drink, but it's there.  (Speaking of holiday drinks, I got my gingerbread latte yesterday in my very first red Starbucks cup of the season!  It was initially a weird experience since I picked up my drink right next to a display offering coffee grounds in the flavor "Thanksgiving".  I was confused for a second and then realized that pop culture is now celebrating Christmas a month before Thanksgiving and two months before the actual Christmas day, which is sort of aggravating to me but...I'm digressing...)  Chocolate Smoothie.

This smoothie happens to be a chocolate banana protein shake (20g protein!).  I discovered this by accident one day when I was bored and scrolling through the Starbucks app on my phone.  Over the past year or two, I've become a consumer of protein shakes before, during, and/or after a workout, so finding this shake was exciting for me!  I admit that at first I didn't love the taste of it.  My taste buds were expecting a pretty sweet milkshake instead of a slightly sweetened and (relatively) good-for-you smoothie, but eventually I came to love it.

The other day I was looking for a quick snack to whip up and I came across this recipe for a Banana Nutella Microwave Brownie.  Right away, it reminded me of the Starbucks smoothie!  Alright, it's definitely not the same thing, but the flavors are sort of similar.

Then I realized I didn't have any Nutella in my pantry.  However, I do have crushed cookies in the form of Speculoos hanging around!  I picked that up instead and got to work.

Do the dang thing!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Muffins

And I'm back on my "fall flavors" kick.  Can't hold me down for long.

When I made zucchini muffins a few months ago, I was really surprised by how convenient it was for me to freeze the extras, then pop them out and into the microwave for breakfast on the go or a quick snack.  If you know me, you know that I'm usually on the go on the weekends.  So much to do!!!

I sadly ran out of zucchini muffins a few weeks ago and finally got around to making another batch of muffins.  This time, I had some pumpkin puree to use up, so I put it to excellent use.  I mean....pumpkin, pecans, and cranberry in one muffin.  It's like autumn in each bite!

This recipe is super simple too.  It comes together within a few minutes and all of a sudden you have 12 extra large muffins on your hands.  Who doesn't want extra large muffins?  Seriously!  Don't miss out on this!

(OK, I'm shouting now.  Calming it down...)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bubble Up Enchiladas

I'm really into colorful food photos right now.  I don't know why, but I think it has something to do with me being in a "Mexican food" phase lately.  I'm trying to branch out to other food genres and I think I'm getting there, but in the meantime...colorful photos of Mexican food.  Oooohhhh.

Speaking of this, why isn't there a season for Mexican food?  Granted, I eat Mexican food all the time so I could care less whether or not there is a season for this.  Still, I think this cuisine needs its own spotlight.  Just my personal rant.  As per usual.

On another note, remember when I made that Bubble Up Pizza that I still can't get out of my mind?  Yeah, it was insane.  I had made a last-minute decision to only make a half batch of that pizza, which meant that I still had another roll of refrigerated biscuit dough on hand.  Since I am a food blogger and clearly cannot make the same dish more than once (in most cases), I decided to put a different spin on my next "bubble up" dish.

That's when I found it.  My new holy grail Mexican dish: Bubble Up Enchiladas.  I completely heart enchiladas but I made them once before and I have never made them again.  They were completely wonderful and tasty, but the time it took to make the filling, fill and roll the enchiladas, then bake them really took away from my "lounge on the couch with a mug of spiked coffee" time.  And that's important too, you know!

This bubble up pizza variation was simple, quick, and did not interfere with any quality coffee and food magazine time that I had set aside for myself.  If you're interested (hint: you should be), check out the recipe below and let this become one of your new, quick weeknight meals.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Demarest Farms - Apple Picking 2013

Sometimes you've just got to jump on the bandwagon.  And if that bandwagon just so happens to lead you to apple picking on a crisp Fall day, then so be it.

I wasn't sure I really wanted to go apple picking this year, but I think I nailed down the source of that "bah humbug" mood.  I drive my car a lot during a week.  I live in New Jersey, work in Pennsylvania, and while I'm staying out in PA, I have to drive my car virtually anywhere I want to go.  For the past few years, I've been apple picking at Terhune Orchards, a really cute farm out in Princeton, NJ.  I have a great time when I'm there, but the problem I face is that the drive there and back typically ends up being two hours each way.  In case you're wondering, this leads to exhaustion and a lackluster attitude, which is no bueno.

This year when my sister and nephew wanted to go apple picking, I was determined to find a new (and closer!) farm to visit.  After an online search, I ran into Demarest Farms.  They won me over because, besides being nearby, they had pumpkin and apple picking, hay rides, a kiddie area, and a convenient farm store.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mexican Mac n' Cheese

Let's take a pause on all this pumpkin stuff. I can only handle so much. (PS - That's totally not true.) What is totally true is that I have too many other recipes that I want to make as well. Plus, let's face it, I'm going to bore my taste buds to death pretty soon.  Even though there's only one pumpkin recipe on my blog this season, that doesn't account for all the pumpkin coffees, lattes, sauces, and desserts that I've been eating on the side. I prefer not to talk about it. This may be the reason my jeans are having a hard time buttoning these days. Ugh. Yup, let's not talk about it.

I want to show you this Mexican Mac and Cheese that I found on SeattleDee's blog, On the Move-In The Galley. OTM-In The Galley was my assigned blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club. SeattleDee has a ton of tasty recipes on her site, but I didn't have enough time to make them all, so I decided to go with the recipe that "spoke" to me the most. Enter this dish.

Surprisingly, I have only one other mac and cheese recipe on this blog. I think it's because in the Bahamas we tend to bake our macaroni (It is "macaroni", not "mac and cheese".) and it has a slightly different texture than other mac and cheeses that I've come into contact with over the past few years. So I don't know what it is about this recipe but it pretty much drew me in and I knew I had to make it.

Please note that this recipe will not help me fit into my jeans this season. I'm a self-sabotager. But I am going to be a well-fed self-sabotager.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Crab Ravioli with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

I know you want it, so here it is.  Pumpkin.  I am finally falling victim this season's pumpkin bug.  You get some pumpkin! You get some pumpkin!  Everybody gets pumpkin!

Throwback shout out to Oprah.

Hmmm....ok, I'm done.

Just so we're clear, Oprah has nothing to do with this pasta dish that I made for you.  I'm just really getting into the swing of fall.  The Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts staff know me on sight as I stroll up to the counter to order some variation of a pumpkin-flavored drink.  So it's time to bring Fall into my apartment and onto my plate.  Let's get down with this pumpkin sauce today.

I bought this prepared crab ravioli a while ago, but it's been hanging out in my freezer for a few weeks.  I'm currently in a "clean all the things out of my freezer" mode, so obviously, this needs to be made.  Since I'm also in an "add pumpkin to all the things" mode, my two worlds collided in the form of this cheesy, savory dish.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Easy Chickpea Curry

I know you were creeping on this blog to look for some pumpkin recipes.  I understand.  That's pretty much what I've been doing in my spare time too.  I have been bookmarking pumpkin recipes like it's my j-o-b.  And I'm not sorry about it.  I'm already racing against time.  I saw Christmas candles and scents popping up in my local Bath and Body Works!  Shut it down right now!  I'm living for fall, people!  I've been scooping up as many Bath and Body Works fall candles as humanly possible.  (I love you Yankee Candle, but $28 for a candle?  Ain't nobody got time for that!  B&BW is seriously stepping up their candle game!)

On top of that, I've sipped on my first ever pumpkin pie martini.  I've also picked up my first can of pureed pumpkin from Trader Joe's.  (PS - My cashier at Trader Joe's claims there's a pumpkin body butter coming out this season.  I'm currently stalking the store.  Don't call the cops yet please.)

Anyhow, this whole rant is basically to tell you that I haven't given up on fall.  Most definitely not! I'm obsessed with it, but even the most obsessive person has to take a breather once in a while.  This is my breather.

It's an easy chickpea curry that I adapted from Jessica's little (totally not little) blog.  I pulled this dish together pretty quickly for lunch and it was seriously so easy.  I had the Pandora Marvin Gaye station going in the background.  Just so you know, singing off-key at the top of your lungs really makes time fly by.  I should be embarrassed by myself.  I'm not.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Livin' The Life 9/26/2013

It's here!!!! The most wonderful time of the year only starts once DD 
(that's Dunkin' Donuts for the uninitiated) busts out the pumpkin coffee.

 Please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers Martin/Sheneneh.
Come on, my 90's friends!  Come. On.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bacon & Egg Grilled Breakfast Sandwich

Well.  For a second there, this was going to be an embarrassing blog post.

You see, I rarely make anything involving croissants.  It's a shame, I know.  But I got down to photographing this tasty bacon and egg breakfast sandwich for you...and wouldn't you know it that these pictures looked remarkably similar to the pictures in my last croissant sandwich blog post.  Hmmmm...interesting.  What to do?  I ask this because in between me taking photographs and reviewing them, I happened to inhale this sandwich.  Whoops.

I started scrolling back through the photos I had taken right after the sandwich was made.  Thankfully, I found pictures of the sandwich styled a few different ways.  Finally.  My photo OCD has saved the day!

I have heard that some food bloggers take between 40 and 50 photos per blog post.  I don't know how they show such restraint.  I must take at least 75 photos each time.  It's a process, but I love finding those few photos that make me want to eat that dish again and again.

Anyhow, since I think this whole event is sort of hilarious (in a "I've been awake since an ungodly hour and I've only had one pumpkin coffee" kind of way), I still decided to put the "photo faux-pas" in this post down below!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bubble Up Pizza

Can we discuss how I've never heard of bubble up pizza before?  Where was I?  I can tell you where I wasn't.  I wasn't scarfing down this deliciousness.  That's what I wasn't doing.

Since football season is back in full swing, I could totally envision myself making this for friends who come over to watch the big game.  That is, if my friends would actually come to my apartment to watch the game.  Hint: they won't.  Why?  I happen to be living large in the land of the early 2000's and I am still hanging on to my 27" box television.  No HD in sight.  You may think that this troubles me.  It doesn't.  In fact, I still love my box television.  As long as it works I'm never getting rid of it  However, it does eliminate me as a host for the big game.  So I guess I'll have to make this wonderful pizza and take it to someone else's place for a good time.

This recipe came to me via Julie over at Little Bit of Everything.  I initially considered creating a spectacular fall (aka pumpkin) recipe for this month's Secret Recipe Club,  but when I came across this pizza I just knew that it was "the one".  And how could I resist anything which involves those refrigerated biscuits?  I ate those things countless times as a kid so of course I couldn't pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make pizza out of them.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Boozy Watermelon Mint Agua Fresca

I debated for a while as to whether or not I should post this recipe.  You see, I had this grand plan of creating a watermelon mojito and knocking my own socks off with it.  I muddled that watermelon like nobody's business.  I ripped that mint apart with a vengeance.  I poured that rum like a boss.  And then came the part where I topped the whole thing off with ginger ale.

Hmmm...I may have forgotten to purchase ginger ale at the grocery store.

OK, time to MacGyver this thing up.  (If you don't know who MacGyver is, then I'm sorry.  Also, we cannot be friends.)  A girlfriend of mine loves to order vodka waters whenever we go out.  In my time of need, I rustled up a pitcher of water and poured it into my glass.

It was actually pretty good! I was shocked.  I really didn't expect it to be as tasty as it was.  This watermelon and mint is once again a winning combo for me.  Mixed together with sugar, water, rum, and lemon juice, this drink is definitely a quick boozy situation to savor in the last days of summer.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nashville Trip 2013

Remember that time I went to Nashville?

I've been really lucky to take a few side trips in 2013 and Nashville, TN was one of the places that I've wanted to visit for the past year or so.  When my friend Sandra said she wanted to go there as well, we decided to just do it.

Here are the highlights of our time there:
  • We stayed at the cutest Marriott hotel ever, Union Station.  It's a train station that was converted into a boutique hotel.
  • According to our taxi driver, at the time it was built in 1900, it was Nashville's tallest building and considered to be a skyscraper.  Clearly it is no longer considered a skyscraper but it is gorgeous inside!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Watermelon & Mint Salad

The title of this post is way less interesting than originally intended.  You see, I picked up a few items at the grocery store the other day and this stash just so happened to include watermelon and an avocado.  The thought never entered my mind to combine them together.  I'm typically a salted-avocado slice kind of gal.  However, I then saw this post which combines watermelon and avocado into a salad! Since I already had most of the ingredients at hand I figured I'd throw this together to see what it was all about.

Let's segway to that moment when I slice open my avocado and there's a black ring throughout the entire fruit... You know that avocado got the stink side-eye.  But I pulled up my big girl pants and decided to simply leave the avocado out of this equation.  Problem solved in three seconds flat.  The recipe is pretty free-form, so I grabbed the ingredients I did have and got to work.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baked Bacon

It's been a real long two weeks for me, folks.  I was super busy at work last week, then I took a trip to Nashville this weekend (amazing! more about this in another post...), and I just got back to the office today only to be greeted by a long list of things to do.  Fair enough.  I was on vacation for the past 6 days.  But I don't have to like it.

What I'm really trying to say here is that this will be a quick post.  BUT I believe it will be quite informative.  I have been talking about baked bacon for a while now.  It's super simple to make, you don't have to stand over a hot stove, and finally, most importantly, you now don't have to worry about being spattered with sizzling hot bacon grease.  Personally, I love that this bacon cooks up flat.  It's probably the perfectionist in me, but I really dislike when bacon gets folded over or super curly in the frying pan.  I think it cooks unevenly and I always get stuck with that bacon strip that is super crispy on one side and oily and flabby on the other side.  No bueno.

Anyhow, enough about my little quirks.  I just want you to know that I lied above.  The absolutely, best and most important (in italics and bold font!) part of baking bacon is that you don't have to clean up after yourself.  Well, you do, but it only involves crumpling up the foil that the bacon is cooked on and throwing it away.  This appeals to the lazy person inside me.  Just do it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crockpot Pulled Chicken Cheesesteak

Why is the name of this dish so complicated?  Should it be Crockpot Pulled Chicken Cheesesteak?  Or should it be Crockpot Cheesesteak Pulled Chicken?  You have no idea how many times I switched these words around.  You probably don't care.

This is the kind of day it's been for me, folks.  It also happens to be only 8pm and all I wanna do is go to sleep.  Oof.

In other news: I'm heading to Nashville in 2 days!  Yes, you heard me.  I'm visiting the south in August.  What of it?  I've wanted to visit Nashville for some time now and when my friend said, out of the blue, that she also wanted to go, we got down to planning this thing.

Don't you worry, I'm going to take lots of pictures.  And since my birthday happens to be *ahem* tomorrow, we will have lots of celebratory pics from this trip. I'll make sure to weed out any inappropriate ones and only post the relevant pictures.  Just kidding!  Totally not kidding. Warning: I'm planning on eating my way through Nashville so that post will be a good time.

I kind of got off track.  Does it matter?  Probably not.  I'm still going to post the recipe for this delicious pulled chicken cheesesteak business, or whatever we happen to be calling it now.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Zucchini & Feta Grilled Cheese

The first day of every week, without fail, at least one of my coworkers asks me how my weekend was.  And just about every week I have the same answer: went to the gym, visited with my sister and nephew, made some food and hung out with friends.  I mean, there are a few other details involved in my weekend, but we won't go into specifics.  Not everything is "coworker-friendly"!

However, next week, I will have the best thing ever to tell the coworks.  I made a zucchini and feta grilled cheese this weekend!  Predictably, I'm sure some people will not be impressed.  But let me tell you that I am dang proud of this.

Instead of simply grilling up my zucchini like the lazy person I actually want to be, I took things up a notch by adding the grilled zucchini to a grilled cheese.  Honestly, it wasn't that much more work.  In the end, I wound up using just one saucepan and (bonus!) I helped to clear some straggling perishable items out of the fridge.  You know how I hate throwing food away!

I pulled out all the stops for this one, friends.  I threw in onions, feta, mustard, and some shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese for some added crunchy-ness, tangy-ness, and creamy-ness.  Have mercy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Zucchini Muffins

I feel it's time to deal with the zucchini situation that we typically find ourselves living in around this time of year.  You know what I mean.  Zucchinis are being harvested out of your gardens in droves.  Or, in my case, zucchinis are overflowing in the supermarkets.  Let's face it.  Hoboken is not known for its great gardening opportunities.

Still, I love these little green vegetables and can't wait for this time to swing around every year.  Recently, I've been loving a simple side of grilled zucchini slices as a snack or a side dish with dinner.  However, when I was assigned the blog Jane's Adventures in Dinner for this month's Secret Recipe Club, I discovered her recipe for Airy Zucchini Muffins.  Clearly I needed to get a little snazzier with my zucchini fare.

I've previously made a zucchini bread and I can vividly recall how delicious that was, so I was quite excited to give these muffins a shot.  Jane's recipe was so quick to whip up that the task which took the longest was the grating of the zucchini.  Seriously.  These muffins came together in minutes and they were simply delicious.  I ended up using cranberries instead of cherries in the recipe simply because I believe in using what I have already in my pantry if I can.  Other than that, I pretty much followed the directions given.  The muffins were as promised: light, airy, and delicious.

I liked that these muffins aren't too sweet, which makes them a perfect for breakfast sustenance.  I also ended up freezing several of these so I can defrost them overnight and have a quick meal on the go the next morning. (Come on. You know I can't resist freezing things!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Caprese Chicken

Fun fact: I sort of don't like tomatoes.  Let me break this down.  Through some trial and error, I've realized that what I don't actually like is the taste and texture of tomato seeds.  Their texture reminds me of Jell-O, which I absolutely hate.  As in, to the point of gagging, hate.  Ok, no talk of gagging on this food blog.  But honestly, I actually really like the rest of the tomato, aka the tomato flesh.  Yes, I'm totally taking this post to an awkward place.

Moving on...I never really thought of pulling all my major faves together into one dish.  I think chicken is a fantastically quick protein to whip up for a weeknight dinner.  I absolutely adore basil.  (Homemade basil pesto? Stop it!)  And let's not even start with the mozzarella cheese.

I've played with variations of this combination before by making Basil Pesto Chicken and a Caprese Salad.  But now, we are taking this business to another level.  Let's combine it all!  And then we drizzle the whole she-bang with balsamic sauce.  Just in case you didn't think we were serious enough.

If you didn't know before, now you know.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blue Ribbon: A Review

If you're going to do something, you should do it well.  This is how I feel about a place called Blue Ribbon.  Two words: fried chicken.  I die.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Korean Beef Bowl

I used to go to the gym Friday evenings to catch up on the past week with my girlfriends.  And of course we burned as many calories as possible so we could promptly justify the ensuing late night dinner and glass (or glasses) of vino.  However, in the past several months, I changed gyms and also got down with some foot surgeries.  Needless to say, I didn't get to see my girls as often as I used to.

A few weeks ago, we coordinated our schedules so we could once again relive our Friday night glory.  We decided on Korean food and ended up at one of our favorite spots in K-town (Koreatown) in NYC.  I never know what to order when faced with pages of foreign food, so once I spotted a ground beef dish called bulgogi, I figured I'd just roll with that.  Little did I know that this bulgogi would be so tasty.  This was the beginning of something beautiful.

Approximately two days later, I discovered a new-to-me blog, Damn Delicious.  This blog is amazing!  The first recipe that popped up was for a Korean Beef Bowl.  Essentially this was a stripped down (aka easy) version of the Korean bulgogi dish.  Clearly this finding was fate and I should just listen to the universe and make this happen.  So I did.  And it was fabulous, as it was meant to be.  This Korean rice bowl was a seriously close substitute for the Korean bulgogi, just without all the time and energy required to make the authentic dish.  Sometimes a girl just has to eat quickly.

But...if you're not into this Korean ground beef situation, then perhaps you would like to partake in some of this Deconstructed Wonton Soup.  Find your own lane and speed on down it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Livin' The Life 7/22/2013

Here's what's going on in my life lately:

My friend trains sea lions at the Queens Zoo.  My sister, nephew and I went to check out the scene.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Farro Salad

I never thought I'd be one of those grain-loving hippies.  But here we are.  Eating farro salad on the real.  I should also tell you that I never envisioned myself eating a cold salad (as in a salad that was once warm and is now cold).  But let me tell you that this salad is excellent either cold, room temperature, or warm.  It's amazing how versatile this dish is.

In case you've never heard of farro, here's the quick low-down.  Farro is a grain that has quite a nutty flavor.  If you want to make things really simple, one could say that farro is very similar to brown rice.  Before this recipe, I had never tried farro before, although I saw numerous favorable reviews of it on the food blogs that I follow.

When Shutterbean originally made this salad, I was finally sure I needed to recreate it myself.  I think I was "wooed" by Tracy's description of Giardiniera-like ingredients and the addition of feta cheese.  I have a newfound obsession* with Giardiniera and we all know how I feel about cheese.  Yes, I would be making this dish.  Just watch me!

* I am quite aware that I have a new obsession every other week.  Let's not be judgmental in these parts.  Thanks.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Deconstructed Wonton Soup

You know that annoying thing I do where I change around a recipe so that it suits me better?  (NEVER because I'm being lazy.  Never.)  Well, I up and did it again.  This time I messed around with a wonton soup recipe.

This month, for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Lea Ann's blog Cooking On The Ranch.  There were so many recipes I really wanted to make, such as the Lamb Sliders with Tomato Chutney, Halibut with Cilantro Topping, and Crock Pot Roast Beef.  If only I had more than one month in which to squeeze it all in!  I finally settled on the Classic Wonton Soup since I had many of the ingredients at home and I've wanted to make wonton soup for a while in any case.

But wait, what is this?  I need to make the wontons ... myself?  Normally I wouldn't have any issues with this but the day that I was making this soup I ended up also being swamped with things to do and I found myself pretty short on time.  (Though I somehow forgot to buy soy sauce during my grocery store trip, requiring me to run out again and pick some up right before I started cooking.)

I took a quick look at all my ingredients and settled on what I needed to do.  Here's what I came up with...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seared Salmon with Tzatziki Sauce

I almost never do this, but I bought some fish the other day.  Something that I've actually never done before is purchase and fry up some salmon.  It's just not something that I "do".  But I recently decided to change that.

See, I need to start eating healthier.  Though this is a constant wish of mine, I actually do need to do it for various reasons.  The biggest reason being that it's summertime and everyone (aka me) wants to be out of the kitchen and also eat lighter meals.  So there ya go.   But i confess that I also really wanted to make my own tzatziki sauce.  Is that so wrong?  Of course not.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Slow Cooker Turkey Cabbage Rolls

It's amazing how many things you realize you don't have once you move into your own place.  Something that I sorely missed right away was a slow cooker.  My roommate was the owner of the slow cooker that I used to use.  But once I moved across town,  I was on my own.  One of the first things I did was order up a new one with a sweet Amazon giftcard my mom gave me as a housewarming gift.  Oh  How I love thee.

Well, after I got my new appliance, it only took me...ahem, another 6 weeks to use it.  Hmmm...funny how I was pining for this thing but once I got it I just let it chill out for a while.  It's not like I don't love the ease of making food in it.  I do.  I just got caught up with other things and didn't get around to using it.  I finally forced myself to make something in it.  After all, I needed to at least confirm it arrived to me in working condition.

I love cabbage rolls.  I feel as if they are an underdog of sorts when it comes to meals.  I feel as if they never sound quite appetizing.  However, a few years ago I became a convert.  I used to work closely with a Turkish coworker.  One of the things we discussed one day was a Turkish version of cabbage rolls.  It got me pretty interested in making them and I whipped them up one night to try them out.

They were delicious!  I was instantly hooked.  Don't let my words fool you though.  I made the old school version of this dish and it took me hours to separate cabbage leaves, make the filling, blanch the cabbage leaves, roll the filling up in the leaves, then finally bake them in the oven for the specified time.  Seriously, this whole process took for-e-ver.  This would be the sole reason I have not made cabbage rolls since 2008.

But wait!  Stefanie over at Sarcastic Cooking has saved the day.  She basically posted a recipe for cabbage rolls that could be made in a slow cooker.  Whaaa?  Let me at this!  This was definitely the first thing that would be made in my new kitchen toy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Malted Milk Ball Guinness Floats

It's time to get your float on.  Cause it's summer and you can justify drinking these as "beverages" and/or dessert.  Go get you some.

Can we all agree that there's nothing better than ice cream/gelato/fro yo?  I'm not picky, really.  All of these frozen custards call to me and I will immediately cave.  I fell victim to a pint of Malted Milk Ball gelato last week.  There may also have been a Key Lime Graham gelato flavor picked up at the same time.  What can I say?  I'm weak.

I started thinking about what to do with these newly acquired desserts.  Of course I could just eat them.  Nothing wrong with that, clearly.  However, I could also try to be creative and make something else out of them.

Enter the Guinness.  Have I mentioned before how I'm in a Guinness phase?  Probably.  To continue this trend, I decided a Guinness float was in order.  One can never have enough Guinness floats.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Livin' the Life: 6/25/2013

Summer has finally graced us with her presence.  And was she ever welcome.  Time to get out and enjoy the sights and events in the city while it's hot hot hot!

So...let's see what I've been up to...

I babysat my nephew a few weeks ago.  We went to playpark 
(aka the playground) and he picked some flowers for me (aka weeds).

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guinness Brownies

I don't know about you, but I've been on a Guinness kick lately.  And since I'm an equal opportunist, I would even venture to say that I am on a "stout beer" kick.  I blame it on the stout beer that I had to consume as a member of my local bar's beer club.  After a few of those, the taste just started to grow on me and we are.  With me checking off stout after stout on that beer list.  Yah, that's how I'm livin'.

What's better than stout beer?  Stout beer in brownies.  Have I told you I've been on a brownie kick lately too?  Mmmmhmmmm.  That has been happening.  What can I say?  I'm a mess.  A mess of beer and chocolate.  I could do worse.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Prosciutto, Smoked Gouda, and Balsamic Onion Puff Pastry Pie

Are you a ham and cheese person?  I'm not.

I don't really like cold sandwiches.  I grew up with them, but they were definitely not on my "favorite" list.  In fact, I can still smell them and sort of want to gag inside.  These things happen.

However, maybe we can elevate the poor ham and cheese sandwich* to something more.  Let's use prosciutto and slices of smoked Gouda cheese.  Let's throw in some balsamic caramelized onions.  Finally, let's place all this between two layers of puff pastry slathered in whole grain mustard.  Let's do that.  Because we're grown folks and we can.

*If you happen to like plain ham and cheese sandwiches, I've got nothing but love for you.  It's just not my cup of tea.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Swedish Meatballs

I seem to always be in a state of "I need to clean out the freezer!"  I'm sure you all know by now that I'm a traveling consultant, which means that I make a lot of food one day, then freeze it because I'm out of the state for the next 3 - 4 days.  Heck, I also freeze some leftover ingredients so they won't go bad before I can use them again.  And, since I'm living in the NYC area and there are a ton of tasty restaurants nearby, I tend to only eat at home about 50% of the time.  Hence, the need to freeze.

But sometimes I'm just over it.  I look in my freezer and realize I can't reach the ice cube tray because there's a cup of frozen milk in front of it.  (Yes, you can freeze milk!)  Or I open the freezer door and I'm attacked by falling slabs of ground beef.  You know how that is, right? I had picked up some extra ground beef when it was on sale at my local grocery store but since I didn't have an immediate use for it, I threw it in the freezer...aka the "black hole".  Now was the time to use this.  

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog From Grandma Loy's Kitchen.  I loved looking through all of Miss Loy's recipes.  There was so many desserts!!  We all know those are near and dear to my heart, but I am sad (happy?) to say that I have a ton of desserts already stored in my freezer.  It's sort of bordering on a dessert hoard in there.  I don't want to talk about it.  With my ground meat firmly in mind, I eventually decided to make a batch of Swedish Meatballs.    I've actually never made this before because, guess what!, I don't like gravy.  Yep, last week I completely shocked you all with my black bean disclosure, and this week, I'm continuing on that theme with some gravy info.  I don't know why, but I've never been enthralled by the thought of butter, flour, and broth coming together to smother my meat.  Not so interested.  Cheese?  Why yes, I'll take that.  Gravy?  Uh, I'll pass, thanks.

So this time I decided to give gravy a shot.  Why not?  I live my life on the edge so let's take the plunge.  I'm so glad I did because these meatballs turned out to be really flavorful and the sauce made the meat extra rich and hearty.  I could totally get on the gravy train now.  (Get it?  I know, I'm corny!)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Five Layer Taco Dip

I've been eating a little like crap lately.  I'm currently snacking on some Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato.  I recently (as in about 5 minutes ago) housed a small bag of popcorn for dinner.  And not long before that, it's possible that I may have eaten 3/4 of an entire monkey bread appetizer, which was probably meant to serve 4 people comfortably.  And yet...

So it may come as no surprise to you that I'm also lovin' all up on some Five Layer Taco Dip.  You knew that was coming, didn't you?  I have little shame by now.

I made this dip for my housewarming party a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it.  So of course I recreated it for myself.  Hey, sometimes it's OK to be a little selfish.  Especially when it involves fresh avocado, corn, and cheese!

Interesting facts (because you care): I used to really dislike black beans, but I'm starting to come around.  I'm not completely on the bandwagon yet, but I'm thinking to incorporate them more into my dishes - especially Mexican-inspired dishes!  Also, this is the first dish I've ever made with black beans!  Look into the archives.  I challenge you to find a black bean recipe in there.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Orleans Trip 2013

I really have to share.  I'm still digging New Orleans, you guys!  Obviously, I have to blog about it.  I took a ton of pictures and figured I should share some here.  Let's just say that I went to all the most-talked-about-and-important places.  Naturally, a lot of them are food-related, because heck, a girl's gotta eat sometime.  So let's get this party rolling.

Warning: This is a pic-heavy post.  It's mostly my fault because I should just make collages to make the photos more compact, but it's a long story and I can't do anything about that now.  Just so ya know...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chocolate Palmiers

I just returned from a pretty bangin' trip to New Orleans.  I want to go back straight straight straight away.  I recently developed an affinity for jazz music and a slight obsession with the Big Easy.  I blame the Preservation Jazz Hall Band.  You see, I went to see them at City Winery in NYC back in February.  Halfway through the concert, I came to the conclusion that these talented men seemed to live pretty happy and rich lives down in New Orleans.  So clearly I had to go check it out!

Now I don't usually do this.  You can be certain that I am not much of a traveler, but I figured I should probably work on changing that up.  I like to travel, but there always seems to be a reason not to go just-this-second.  I switched up the game this year.  In 2013, we will travel more!

So anyhow, I went to NOLA and ate my face off, while listening to a ton of jazz music and making new friends along the way.  I did it up right.  However, I have now developed an addiction to pralines.  This cannot lead anywhere good.  I know it. I just recently weaned myself* off these chocolate palmiers and I already have another replacement!

*Disclaimer: I have not actually weaned myself off these palmiers, but I did run out of them.  I have been holding myself back from making another batch so that I don't scarf them down all at once.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Asparagus, Tomato & Basil Couscous


About this gorgeous weather that we've started having...Thank you.  I am completely on board with Mother Nature doing a 180 and finally realizing what time of year it is.  And this "change of heart" is perfectly timed with the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

Since spring is finally springing, I guess I should stop showing you recipes with chocolate, huh? (The correct answer is: No.) Never, ever fear.  There is chocolate in the quite immediate future, but for now, we will have fresh vegetables, mixed with some couscous and cheese.  Who can hate on that?

This quick and easy dish came to me from one of my favorite blogs, Shutterbean.  Tracy never fails to find just the right thing to make at the right time.  When I saw this post last week, I knew I had to get the ingredients and make it.  Here's a note, though.  I had very few of the ingredients already, but once I subbed out a few items, it turned out that all I needed was some asparagus.  

Me - 1, Dead zone where my perishable food goes to curl up and die - 0.