Monthly Archives: June 2013

Pink-a-Colada

Today is officially my last day at my job.  I wish I could tell you that I’m going to be able to work full-time on this blog which would make me so happy but that’s not the case.  Here’s the short of it: my office was relocated from Philadelphia to Connecticut and I didn’t want to make the move.   Fortunately, I’m taking a new job starting Monday.  The past year and nine months since we’ve known about the move have been stressful, gut wrenching and tiring.  Watching friends and co-workers leave to go to other jobs was sad.  Watching everyone getting packed up and spending the last week in an empty office was even sadder.  So because of our “end” and because the summer heat is in full force, why not celebrate it all with a fruity, coconuty cocktail like these Pink-a-Coladas?

Cranberry juice, coconut water, pineapple juice and coconut rum are mixed together for a perfectly summery sweet warm weather cocktail.  I’m not the biggest fan of coconut water and since the rum is already strong enough, I’m not really sure it’s necessary.  Don’t worry if you don’t have some.  Coconut rum and pineapple juice is already so good together but adding in some tart cranberry juice cuts down some of the sweetness which makes these cocktails go down waaaaaay too easily.  As bittersweet as my job’s move has been, I don’t know what else to do but just raise my glass and say…Cheers!  Here’s to new beginnings.

DSC04451

The ingredients:

DSC04446

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large pitcher.

DSC04448

Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired.

DSC04452

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Coastal Living Magazine

California-Style Bibimbap

I went to a Korean restaurant with my friends Jade and Scott a while back and, not knowing much about Korean food, couldn’t bring myself to eat anything other than chicken teriyaki.  I kept eyeballing Jade’s bibimbap because if it weren’t for the meat, this seemed like a dish I would totally be all over: rice, veggies, chili paste, egg, yum!  So when I came across this vegetarian version, California-Style Bibimbap, I stared in disbelief – could it be true?  I was all over it.

Bibimbap is a signature Korean dish usually made with beef but this version takes the beef out and instead uses spinach (or kale), peppers, and avocado.  The spinach and pepper are sautéed until the spinach is wilted and the pepper is slightly soft and spooned over fluffy jasmine rice (hello…a new fave, even if it is a dreaded white rice).  Fresh avocado is added and an egg (either fried or over-easy) tops the dish.  The whole bowl is then dressed with a sesame oil-soy sauce mixture and dotted (or splattered if you so incline) with hot and spicy sriracha.  I cannot even begin to tell you how obsessed with this dish I am.  I plan on making tons of (non-traditional) variations of this using broccoli, carrots, celery, bok choy, mushrooms, asparagus or chicken in the future.  I made this on Sunday, texted Jade a picture right away, and continued to eat it all day long.  It’s no wonder that I couldn’t get Hanson’s “MMMBop” out of my head all day.

DSC04468

The ingredients (I forgot the avocado):

DSC04463

Put rice and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook rice until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

DSC04464 

Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Cook kale, bell pepper, and garlic with salt over medium heat until kale is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes.

DSC04465 

Divide rice among 4 bowls and top with vegetable mixture and avocado.  Fry eggs in the same pan until done the way you like. Slide each egg into a bowl.

 DSC04466

Mix sesame oil and soy sauce and drizzle over bowls.

DSC04467 

Drizzle with Sriracha or sprinkle with togarashi.

DSC04469

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Sunset Magazine

Cheesy Pigs in Blankets

I’ve been oddly hungry for hot dogs lately which, if you’ve been following me for a hot minute, means turkey dogs in my world.  It’s rare that I buy turkey dogs but there was just something that came over me which made me, no required me, to purchase those weird meat stick things.  I came home from the grocery store and pulled out the hot dogs and whole-wheat buns with the plan to have one right away.  But those precious, soft, and seemingly fresh buns turned out to have a pocket of mold right in the middle of the pack.  So into the trash they went.  I ended up having a hot dog on its own with nothing but yellow mustard which was okay but I didn’t want to eat a whole pack of dogs that way.  I remembered this recipe for Cheesy Pigs in Blankets and went back to the store the next day specifically for pizza dough to make these little piggies.

Turkey dogs are halved and rolled up with mozzarella cheese into triangles of pizza dough and baked until plump and golden brown.  A mixture of ketchup, barbecue sauce and yellow mustard makes for a perfect dipping sauce for these little bites which can be made for either a light dinner or impressive appetizers.  I loved pigs in a blanket as a kid and I’m now reminded of how much I love them as an adult.  I may never eat a hot dog with a bun again.

DSC04441

The ingredients:

DSC04435

Let dough stand, covered, for 20 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12 x 4–inch rectangle.  Cut rectangle into 4 (4 x 3–inch) rectangles; cut each rectangle in half diagonally to form 8 triangles.

DSC04438

Divide cheese evenly among triangles; place in the center of wide ends.

DSC04439

Place 1/2 hot dog at the wide end of each triangle; roll up, pinching ends to seal.  Arrange rolls on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

DSC04440

Bake at in a preheated 425°F oven for 12 minutes.  Combine ketchup and remaining ingredients.  Serve with rolls.

DSC04442

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Finely shredded mozzarella cheese

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Tangy Coffee Barbecue Sauce

I realized the other day that I have a ton, I mean a ton, of recipes for barbecue sauce.  And yet I continue to buy chicken breasts but leave them in the freezer because who wants to eat plain old chicken breast?  It never occurs to me to pull out one of these recipes and actually make a barbecue sauce to add some pizzazz to baked or grilled chicken.  This past weekend when I was paging through my recipes, I kept stopping at these sauces and suddenly realized I already have the ingredients to make most of them, like this Tangy Coffee Barbecue Sauce.  Duh!  So long boring chicken!

Ketchup and coffee are the basis for this sauce which is simmered together with a little brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Black pepper, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce are added at the end to give it and even bigger zing.  Add it to chicken, pork, beef or even veggies for a little extra zip.  ‘Tis approaching barbecue season so don’t go and get one of those bottled preservative messes, make some scrumptious sauce of your own.  It’s cheaper and tastes so much better!

DSC04444

The ingredients:

DSC04425

Combine ketchup, coffee, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

DSC04426

Remove from heat; stir in pepper, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.

DSC04427

DSC04443

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Roots, Greens, and Shoots Quinoa

Have you been hearing about “superfoods” lately?  Foods that are supposedly the most nutritious food we can put into our bodies?  Well, I have.  The list of the top superfoods can vary by professional or article but I’ve seen enough written on the topic to know that quinoa, sweet potatoes, and spinach are all top contenders.  So when I came across a feature in Cooking Light magazine of different low-calorie quinoa combos, I was drawn to this Roots, Greens, and Shoots combination.

With nothing more than roasted sweet potato, baby spinach, toasted pecans and scallions, this quick meal is about as nutritious as you can get.  If you have a spare sweet potato or some leftover cooked quinoa, you also have a speedy meal.  But if not, either roast a sweet potato in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or buy a super-simple pre-wrapped sweet potato and microwave according to the directions.  Quinoa, which has become an easy replacement for rice in my house, can be cooked in 15 minutes with a 2:1 water ratio.  Although there isn’t any dressing or other flavoring to this dish, you might think this would be pretty bland but on the contrary, the combination of the sweetness in the potato, the crunch of the pecans and the zing of the scallions made this easily one of my favorite quick meals I’ve ever made.  In fact, it’s super.

DSC04401

The ingredients:

DSC04397

Combine chopped sweet potato, torn spinach, and sliced scallions in a bowl.

DSC04398

Top with toasted pecans.

DSC04399

DSC04400

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Mixed Citrus Margaritas

You know how I told you the other day that I’ve been really stressed at work?  Say hello to last night’s dinner: Mixed Citrus Margarita.  Enough said.

DSC04396

The ingredients:

DSC04392

In a large pitcher or jug combine the tequila, juice, liqueur, and sugar to taste.

DSC04394

Serve over ice with lime wedges.

DSC04395

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens magazine

Lemon-Braised Chicken Tenders and Cauliflower

Sorry for the two week silence and no blog posts.  I’ve really tried not to talk too much about work here but my work situation has been so stressful the last several months, specifically the last few weeks, that I come home at night and don’t do much but lay around in the dark, watch television and eat take out or fried egg sandwiches.  My weekends, which is usually when I do my cooking, have been a lot more of the same.  I’m probably depressed but I’ll be changing jobs at the end of the month so I’m hoping things start to get better.  Usually cooking calms me down and helps me to decompress but I haven’t even been up for doing that much.  The only good thing that comes out of eating badly for two weeks and laying around is that finally I want something better to eat, something somewhat healthy and something that maybe includes a fruit or vegetable.  So I finally got off my butt and made some food, specifically these Lemon-Braised Chicken Tenders and Cauliflower.

Frozen chicken tenders (yes, frozen) are mixed with onion and cauliflower before sitting in a lemon juice-chicken broth bath until mostly cooked.  After finishing cooking in the oven, spinach and scallions are added as well as slightly sweet dates and nuts (I used pecans instead of pistachios).  This is a truly unique mixture of flavors which all works together wonderfully.  I’m shocked that I like cauliflower as much as I do considering I wouldn’t go near it as a kid.  Or spinach.  Or scallions.  Or onions.  Or dates.  Hmm, who is that in the mirror looking back at me?

DSC04385

The ingredients:

DSC04380

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add frozen chicken tenders. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to plate.

DSC04381

To the same Dutch oven add onion and cauliflower. Cook 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper; cook 30 seconds more. Add lemon juice. Stir,  scraping up brown bit in bottom of pan. Add chicken broth and lemon peel. Bring to boiling; cover and transfer to oven.

DSC04382

DSC04383

Bake 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F). Add spinach and green onion; cover and let stand 2 minutes to slightly wilt spinach.

DSC04384

In a small bowl combine olives, dates, and pistachios. Spoon chicken mixture over cooked rice, if desired. Top with date mixture and additional lemon peel, if desired.

 DSC04386

Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Olives

Substitutions:

  • Pecans

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens magazine

%d bloggers like this: