Thursday, June 30, 2011

Notice a difference?

Nacho Nacho

Do you notice a difference? Do you? See that picture up there? The one that's all pretty and shiny and taken with my BRAND NEW CAMERA??? I've been saving all summer and I was finally able to purchase my Canon Rebel T3. Hooray! Let me tell you, just looking at that picture is making me hungry.

I had intended to make panzanella today, inspired by my new favorite blog, Budget Bytes. I've really only had panzanella once, but it was so delicious that it frequently fills my cloudy, day-dreaming head. Particularly in the summertime. Soooooo, I went to start making the panzanella of my dreams only to find that the left over focaccia I intended to use had far surpassed anything that could be considered acceptable for eating. It was covered in mold and had to be thrown out (always such a sad thing to do). So I resorted back to nachos. I had tortilla chips, leftover refried beans, red onion, shredded cheese, lettuce and salsa. It made a fantastic lunch!

Nacho Nacho

1) Preheat oven to 350℉.

2) Spread refried beans on some tortilla chips and arrange them on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

3) Sprinkle with shredded cheese, red onion, and anything else your heart desires (or that you have in your fridge). Try diced bell peppers, jalapeños, olives.

4) Heat in the oven until the cheese gets melty.

5) Use a spatula to scoop the chips onto a plate, or just eat it from the cookie sheet. Be careful not to burn yourself!

6) Serve with lettuce on top and salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream on the side.

Bowl of Fruit. Life is good.

Bowl of Fruit
(nuf said)

Ever have one of those days when you just feel great? For me, those days usually start with a delicious and healthy breakfast. After a nice long swim at the university pool, I was in serious need of fuel. Luckily, my fridge was full of berries. Oh, those delicious berries. Paired with a bit of greek yogurt and drizzled with raw honey from the farmer's market, you cannot look at the day to come and think anything other than "life is good." Honestly, get me one of those t-shirt guys on the phone because I have a big seller here.

If you haven't started your day with a yummy bowl of fruit lately, I suggest you do so.

P.S. I sprinkled a little All Bran on it for a little crunch and added health benefits.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Roasted Shrimp with Feta
(from Ina Garten)

Brother face has been talking about shrimpies for WEEKS now. Really. Weeks.

Me: Brother, what do you want for dinner?
Brother: Shrimpies.
Me: Erm, brother, we don't have any shrimp. What else do you want?
Brother: Hmmm... shrimp.

This is the conversation we've been having repeatedly, so I found a tasty Ina Garten recipe from How Easy is That? and saw to it that shrimp was in my grocery cart on the next trip to Meijer. Yep, we finally had the shrimpies Brother had been persistently craving.

And I'm so glad we did! This recipe is definitely going on my favorites list. You get to sop up the tomato-y sauce with yummy bread and it's lemony and so full of flavor. Plus, it was pretty simple and quick, which is always good in my book.

Fennel seems to be a pretty popular ingredient these days, but I have to say, I'm just not a big fan of it. The black licorice-y flavor has never been my thing. Actually being IN Greece wasn't able to get to enjoy the ouzo. Shame, huh? Anyhow, Ina's recipe calls for fennel and Pernod, which, as I understand it, has a black licorice flavor. Easy fix, though! I used some basil in place of these things to contribute a very light anise (that's the black licorice flavor) flavor without being overpowering. If you don't like basil, though... well, I just don't know what to tell you.


Serves 4-5

1) Preheat oven to 400℉.

2) Heat 2 Tbsp. EVOO in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 c. basil, cut into a chiffonade, and sauté for a few minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 1/4 c. dry white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook 2-3 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half. Add 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes and liquid (or whole tomatoes and just mash 'em up a bit with your wooden spoon), 2 tsp. tomato paste, 1 tsp. dried oregano, S&P. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 min.

3) Arrange 1 1/4 lb. shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato mixture in the skillet. Scatter 5 oz. feta cheese evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine 1 c. bread crumbs, 3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley, and 1 tsp. lemon zest with 2 Tbsp. EVOO and sprinkle it over the shrimp.

4) Bake for 15 minutes, until shrimp are cooked and bread crumbs are golden. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot and dip a nice, crusty bread into the tomato sauce.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh, Hey Rachael Ray!

Shish Kebabs with Spanakopita Orzo

I love lamb. Love it. I almost never cook it, though, because it can be a bit out of my almost-nothing price-range. But what the heck? I decided to splurge this week and make a recipe from Rachael Ray's Look + Cook. I'm not normally thrilled by Rachael Ray's recipes, but this one was a hit! The orzo that the lamb skewers were served on top of was surprisingly flavorful, and the entire meal was super simple to prepare. I mean, could it get any better?

Shish Kebabs with Spanakopita Orzo

Serves 4

1) If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes.

2) Get your grill started (or preheat your broiler). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 1/2 lb. orzo according to the package directions. Drain the cooked orzo and reserve.

3) While the pasta is cooking, whisk together in a large bowl 1 Tbsp. fresh or 1 tsp. dried oregano, 3 Tbsp. EVOO, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and some S&P. Toss 2 lb. lamb top round or should steaks, evenly cut into bite-sized cubes in the EVOO mixture. Make sure all pieces are well-coated. Thread the cubed lamb onto the skewers. Cook the lamb to your liking.

4) While lamb is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 Tbsp. EVOO. Add 1 small onion, finely chopped, and 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Sauté until tender, about 5 min.

5) Meanwhile, put 1/2 cup vegetable stock and 2 cups baby spinach in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the spinach puree to the onions and garlic and heat through, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked orzo, 1c baby spinach, 1c crumbled feta cheese, and S&P to taste.

6) When the lamb is done cooking, serve over top of the orzo.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Operation Recreation

Thai Crunch Salad- Recreated

I went home for the weekend and decided to hit the mall since the weather was just so-so. After piling my arms with clothes from the most GIGANTIC Forever 21 I have ever seen, I went to the dressing room (after having to ask an employee where the heck it was- that's how big the store was) only to realize that I really couldn't face that store alone. I had to call in reinforcements: Mom. My mom is an absolute angel and came to the mall to help me tackle the mountain of clothes I had picked to try on. (I may have bribed her by saying I'd buy her lunch.)

Well, we finally made it out of the store intact and were in serious need of sustenance. We went to one of our favorite mall restaurants: California Pizza Kitchen! We split the Thai Crunch Salad. Have you ever had it? It's sooooo good. So good. The thing about salads at a restaurant is that you always feel like you could make it at home if it weren't for the delicious dressings! Oh, maybe it's just my mom and I that obsessively try to figure out how to make anything we eat in a restaurant. Anyway, I went home and did a little internet research (Thank you, Google) and found a recipe for the dressings for the salad. I have to say, they did a fantastic job recreating the dressings. My salad came out soooo delicious! Here's how ya do it!

Recreated Thai Crunch Salad

1) Pound a chicken breast so that it is an even thickness throughout, allowing it to cook evenly. Marinade it in the refrigerator in 3 T EVOO, 1/2 T soy sauce, and 1 T chopped garlic for 10-20 minutes.

2) Chop some napa cabbage and romaine lettuce (or whatever combination strikes your fancy, though cabbage really makes it great) and put it in a bowl. Add some edamames, chopped carrot, scallions, and avocado.

3) Make the salad dressings... (recipes follow)

4) Cook the chicken in a hot skillet or on a grill. When it is finished, let it sit for a few minutes before cutting it into cubes. Toss it in with the lettuce mixture. Sprinkle some crispy chow mein noodles or rice noodles on top. Drizzle the two dressings on top and dig in!

Thai Peanut Dressing

Makes 1/2 cup

1) In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter, 1 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. honey, 1 1/2 tsp water, and 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce. Be patient. The super thick peanut butter WILL thin out and the ingredients will combine to be smooth.

2) Stir in 1 Tbsp. sugar, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt (add a little at a time because the soy sauce also has plenty of salt in it), 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

3) Whisk in 1 Tbsp. canola oil until the dressing is smooth.

4) Bring to room temperature and whisk before using.

Lime Cilantro Dressing

Makes 1 cup

1) Combine 1/4 small red bell pepper, cut into small pieces, and 1 small bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (or leave it out if you don't like cilantro), in a food processor. Add 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. honey, 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. white vinegar, 1 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. lime juice, 1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp. sesame oil, 1/4 tsp. fresh minced ginger, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper. Process until smooth.

2) Slowly drizzle 1/2 cup EVOO in with the food processor on.