Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 23: Easy Recipe from Grandpa

My grandpa never used to cook when my bubbe was still alive. She was the master of her domain, and the kitchen was her domain. A talented cook and baker, I remember growing up to her famous warm fruit pies and my favorite frozen lemon torte. However, after my bubbe became ill and eventually died, a hidden passion came from my grandpa's kitchen and his easy 30-minute meals could probably rival Rachel Ray in my opinion. This is one of them that my sister made for me tonight along with my mother's easy salad dressing for the side salad:

Easy Cheesy Baked Tilapia Filets with Green Salad
Makes 2-3 servings

3 filets of frozen tilapia (or fresh, but the cooking time will be reduced if you use fresh filets)
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tsp paprika
1-2 tsp minced garlic (optional--I love garlic so I pretty much add it to everything, haha, well almost everything--definitely not dessert; I'm not that daring)
2 tsp parmesan cheese
dill for garnish (my touch)
3 c. chopped Romaine lettuce
6 mini-heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
1 c. broccoli slaw (I found mine prepared already at Trader Joe's because I'm lazy like that)

Mom's Famous Salad Dressing: 
The ratio is 1-2-3, so my sister just made enough for our salad with some left over since we don't like to drench our salad with dressing.

1 tsp mustard (my sister used whole grain because that's all we had but feel free to use regular mustard too, although I'd recommend French mustard instead of the yellow mustard you use on hotdogs)
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp EVOO (or regular olive oil)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a foil packet, place fish fillets side by side.
3) Mix together parmesan, garlic and mayonnaise in a bowl and then smear it onto the fish fillets.
4) Sprinkle paprika onto the filets, the closing the foil packet afterwards.
5) Bake fish for about 20 minutes (*Note: If fish is fresh, decrease time to about 10 minutes.)
6) Meanwhile, mix together salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
7) Rinse off lettuce and broccoli slaw in a colander.
8) Rinse off the tomatoes into small pieces and add it to the salad.
9) Serve salad next to the fish on a plate and top it with about 1 tbsp of dressing.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 22: Chicken Soup For The Soul

It's that time of year when I inevitably get sick with some cold or a minor case of the flu. I hope it's not the latter, but since I don't have chills or body aches, I'm guessing it's just a bad case of a winter cold. Now you may be asking yourself, why can't I get my sister to cook me some good ol' chicken soup? Well, I could and I did the last time I had a stomach flu but, because of this blog, I've been tending to hog the kitchen lately. This won't be happening that much longer though, because I'm afraid as I have night classes most nights when school resumes on Monday, so I'll either have my sister cook for me or I'll be making dishes to last a few days, so the posts will be less frequent. Anyway, back to tonight's dish, where I took the common chicken soup and made some tasty alterations. I hope it will warm your soul; I know I've been schvitzing while cooking away in the hot kitchen, so it's definitely warming mine! 

Chinese Green Tea-Infused Chicken Garlic Soup with Rapini and Garbanzo Beans
Makes 5-6 servings

2 chicken breasts, defrosted
4-5 stalks of rapini (or broccoli rabe as it's also referred to)
1/3 c. garbanzo beans
1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
2 large eggs
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 c. brewed green tea with brown rice flavor (can be found in most supermarkets if not Asian supermarkets for sure)
4 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice

1/2 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce

2 tbsp mild or medium salsa verde
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp margarine
1/4 tsp chopped basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
4 shakes of black pepper

1) Pour the chicken broth, almond milk, tea and lemon juice into a medium-large pot and turn the stove-top to a medium heat level.
2) Add in Sriracha sauce, Chinese five-spice, ginger paste, and rice vinegar.
3) Crack the 2 eggs and wisk them together in a small bowl before stirring them in the soup.
4) Defrost the chicken breasts in a bowl in the microwave for about 10 minutes.
5) Rinse the rapini and discard the stalks (or you could eat them for a snack like I did--they're sweeter than the leaves)
6) Add in the rapini, and place a lid over to let it simmer for about 3 minutes before turning down the heat setting to a low heat.
7) In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil and margarine on medium heat until it starts to sizzle and add in the chickpeas and the last four ingredients (the spices), stirring it to coat the chickpeas. Let it simmer with the lid on for a 3-4 minutes.
8) Place the chicken breasts into the skillet with the chicken juices and cover it again with the lid. Let it simmer for several minutes before flipping the breasts to the other side, letting it cook for another 3 minutes.
9) With a fork and large knife, slice the chicken breasts in the pan and let it cook in the juices for 5 minutes, flipping it after about 2 minutes.
10) Once chicken is white (then it's cooked), use the fork again to shred the slices of chicken into smaller pieces with the knife.
11) Turn down the heat and let the chicken-bean mixture as well as the soup simmer for about 20-30 minutes. I was doing laundry so this was after the drying cycle was finished, so I spent this time folding my laundry at the laundrymat across the street, but you can do whatever you wish to kill time (maybe clean up after yourself as a possible suggestion so you don't have as much afterwards? Also, cleaning burns more calories anyway.)
12) Carefully remove the chicken pieces and dump them into the soup, turning up the heat to a medium-low heat setting.
13) Turn off the heat under the skillet and with a fork, mash the cooked chickpeas in the skillet.
14) Dump the chickpea mixture into the soup, stirring it in with a wooden spatula.
15) Put the lid on the pot and turn up the heat to a medium setting, letting the soup come to a boil again.
16) Turn off the heat and serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 20: Dessert for Dinner? Why not?

I love making a seemingly disgusting invention into a surprisingly delicious treat. And who says flans are reserved for dessert? Latinos do, as I've discovered from some of my Puerto Rican friends, but I'm not Latina, so I can break the rules. I can't wait that long and I'm sure most of you are thinking about dessert while you're eating your dinner anyway, and then there are some of you that even order dessert first just so you'll have enough room in your stomach to devour its deliciousness. WELL, my favorite type of cuisine is Thai food (I'll never tire of it), and my favorite meal is dessert, so I just had to experiment to find a way to turn a sweet dessert into a savory dinner entree. Be bold and try it for yourself! I did, and the first attempt failed, not gonna lie here, but this is the new and improved 2nd attempt! I served this as a side dish to some Thai chicken curry soup that my friend Jamie prepared alongside me in the kitchen. It was a fun, domestic evening. :)

Sweet n' Savory Mini Thai Flans or Soufflés
Makes 6 mini flans 

1/3 c. light coconut milk (or regular, I just happened to find a can with less calories, so I thought, the healthier the better)
2 dozen raw peeled shrimp (no peeling=less of a hassle; Target sells them in a bag in their freezer section)
1 c. sweet peas
1/2 can water-chestnuts (so about 4 oz.)
6-8 mini yellow heirloom tomatoes
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp gluten-free teriyaki sauce (San-J brand)
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/2 block silken tofu
1/2 c. cooked quinoa or brown rice
3 large eggs
1 tsp chopped chives
toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) If quinoa isn't already cooked, rinse 1/4 to 1/3 quinoa throughly in a sifter colander (it looks like a sifter and a colander had a baby)--this will make it less bitter when cooked.
3) In a 1 c. Pyrex measuring cup, combine the quinoa with twice the amount of water and cook in the microwave on high for 8-10 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated--the quinoa should looks soft like cooked rice.
3) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the tofu, eggs, coconut milk, lime juice, teriyaki sauce, peanut oil, chicken broth, and sesame oil.
4) Add in cooked quinoa and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon.
5) Heat shrimp and peas in the microwave on high for several 4-5, until the shrimp is cooked.
6) Chop water-chestnuts and tomatoes into small pieces.
7) Take out shrimp from the bowl and chop them into small pieces--mine just shredded as I chopped them, which is ideal, kind of like canned crabmeat.
8) Mash the peas with a fork in the bowl with the "shrimp juice" and mix in the chopped shrimp and water-chestnuts.
9) Pour shrimp-veggie mixture into the tofu-egg batter and stir with a large spoon.
10) Spray 6 ramekins with Pam olive oil spoon in the mixture, evenly distributing it between each ramekin.
11) Fill a medium sized rectangular casserole pan about halfway with water and place ramekins inside.
*Note: You can also bake them on a pan without the water for a less pudding-like texture.
12) Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the ramekins and place dish into the oven and bake for about  1 hour until the tops are browned a little and are firm to the touch.
13) Remove from oven and using a knife to cut around the edges of the ramekins, invert the flans onto some plate OR you can just eat the flan straight out of the ramekins--it's up to you!
*Note: You can also put the ramekins in the refrigerator for later.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 18: Chicken of the Sea...Only Better!

"Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken of the Sea.'" --Jessica Simpson

Even if you didn't watch Jessica Simpson's reality show, Newlyweds, (which I didn't, I swear) I'm pretty sure most people know of "chicken of the sea." However, you can't fault Jessica--why is tuna compared to chicken when one is fish and the latter poultry? Kind of an odd comparison, don't you think? Well, the obvious answer is that it's just the name of a brand of canned tuna. However, I knew there had to be more behind the name, so I went to the ever useful Wikipedia (don't judge--there are some educated people writing those articles on that site) which stated the following explanation from the company's website: 

"In the "old days," fishermen referred to the white albacore tuna as "chicken of the sea." It was called this because the white color and very mild flavor reminded them of chicken."

Huh, I guess I never considered that, although I still don't agree with that statement. It does makes sense, considering they have really cook the 'bejeezus' out of the tuna before they can it so it has this white, dry almost unpalatable texture, unlike the tuna dish I made tonight with a different type than albacore: the scrumptious Ahi tuna. 

Mustard Crusted Ahi Steaks with a Sweet Lime-Tamari Glaze over Wilted Rapini and Sauteed Broccoli Slaw
Makes 2 servings

1- 7-8oz. ahi tuna steak (I got mine frozen from Trader Joe's but it's better when it's fresh)
6 stalks of rapini (also known as broccoli rabe--it looks kind of like a cross between kale and broccoli)
1/2 c. broccoli slaw (I got Trader Joe's organic broccoli slaw, but if you're not lazy like I am, you can just grate the stalks of some broccoli in a food processor until you get a nice slaw)
3 tbsp gluten-free Teriyaki sauce (again, I used San-J brand)
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2-3 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce

1) Defrost tuna steak a medium bowl in the microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes (it should still be slighly frozen afterwards).
2) In a large skillet, heat  2 tbsp sesame oil, EVOO, and 2 tbsp lime juice on medium heat until it starts to boil slightly.
3) Pour in 'juice' from the tuna steak  Rub tuna steak with ginger paste and Sriracha sauce until it's all coated.
4) Lower heat slightly, and cook tuna steak in the skillet for 1-2 minutes on one side and flip it to the other side, cooking it for about 1 minute.
5) Spread the mustard and sesame seeds on top and cover the skillet with a lid, letting it cook for about just 1 more minute. Cut of a small slice and make sure it's slightly rare in the middle (I like my steaks medium-rare, but if you want to cook it longer, it's up to you). 
6) Remove steak from heat and set aside.
7) Pour the remaining tbsp of lime juice, sesame oil and teriyaki sauce. 
8) Sautee the rapini and the broccoli slaw (separately on different sides of the skillet) on medium-high heat and cover with the lid until rapini looks wilted.
9) Place Rapini on one side of the plates and the broccoli slaw next to it on the other side. 
10) Cut tuna steak in half and drape over the broccoli slaw. Serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 17: Happy Chinese New Year!

So it's been a few days since the last post, but I was thoroughly enjoying the leftovers I brought back from my dad's Chinese banquet he had this past weekend in Syracuse, and then I went out to one of my favorite Thai restaurants (Spice) last night. I know this is a belated celebration of the Chinese New Year, but my sister lived close to China in Taiwan for three years and she said that they celebrate for weeks on end. With that said, I decided to make a slightly non-traditional Chinese dish, which I would actually call a Middle-Eastern fusion of some sort with Chinese-flavored babaganoush (eggplant salsa in layman's terms). I adjusted the recipe afterwards for when I'd like to make it again. But nevertheless, take a look:

Sweet n' Sour Sesame Chicken with Sesame Babaganoush over Quinoa Nests & Baby Bok Choy
Makes 2 servings

1 large chicken breast
1 baby bok choy
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 box of quinoa spaghetti (I used Ancient Harvest Supergrain Pasta, which is a mixture of corn and quinoa flours)

Chicken Marinade:
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce (*I use La Choy brand which is gluten-free)
1 tsp ginger paste (I used Spice World's ground ginger)
1 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce (mine's from Huy Fong Foods, Inc.)
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce (*I use San - J gluten-free version for stir-fry and marinade)
1/2 tsp ground peppercorns (if you have it available, use Szechuan peppercorns)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp natural peanutbutter (I used Trader Joe's chunky brand--it's a little oilier than other brands but it's just peanuts, I swear, no other additives...must just be the way they made it).

1 c. chopped eggplant (*you can use Chinese eggplant too if you wish)
1 medium-large yellow heirloom tomato OR 6-7 mini heirloom tomatoes chopped (I used yellow tomatoes because my sister can't handle the more acidic red tomatoes, but use whatever floats your boat!)
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
2 tbsp fresh chopped chives
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsbp sesame seeds

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Marinate chicken breast in a bowl for an 1-2 hours. *Note: this can be done the morning before or even the night before.
3) Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook quinoa pasta for several minutes on high until it's al dente (meaning not too soft and mushy when you try a piece like I did)
4) While pasta is cooking, combine babaganoush ingredients into a small mixing bowl and make sure you stir it thoroughly.
5) Drain cooked pasta in a colander and grease a regular sized muffin tin with Pam olive oil (I only greased 4 of them).
6) Arrange the strands of pasta carefully around the edges of the muffin cups to form 'nests' of pasta.
7) Place the tbsp sesame seeds on a cookie-sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake with quinoa cakes for about 10-15 minutes until lightly toasted.
8) Bake quinoa nests for about 20-30 minutes until tops of nest look slightly crispy--don't bake them too long or it will turn out too crunchy (you want them to be slightly crispy on top but soft on the bottom).
6) Meanwhile, heat up the EVOO in a medium-large skillet and dump in the babaganoush, cooking it on medium heat for a few minutes with a lid on top. Turn it down to a low simmer while quinoa nests bake.
7) After quinoa nests are done, take them out of the oven and set aside, leaving them inside the muffin tins until the final preparation.
8) Remove babaganoush from the skillet and set aside in a small bowl.
9) Chop chicken breast into smallish chunks (about 1/2" chunks).
10) Throw chunks of chicken with the marinade into the skillet (don't clean it--just let it cook in the leftover oil from the babaganoush) and with the lid on, cook chicken on medium-high heat for several minutes until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
11) Throw in toasted sesame seeds and stir gently before removing the chicken mixture from the heat into another small bowl to set aside.
12) Rinse off baby bok choy leaves and sautée in the skillet for several minutes until the tops of the leaves look wilted.
13) To arrange, pour the leftover marinade from the skillet onto plates, and place arrange bok-choy on one side of the 'pool'.
14) With a spoon, carefully remove 2 quinoa nests per plate and arrange next to the bok choy on the plate.
15) Spoon out 2 tbsp chicken mixture into the nests and top it with 1-2 tbsp babaganoush.
16) Serve immediately, saving the leftover babaganoush for a later treat!

Enjoy, Bon Appetit and 新年快樂! (That's 'Happy New Year' in Mandarin)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 14: The Celiac Cupcake Adventure

So many people seem to be allergic to wheat gluten these days, including my sister, my sister-in-law and her sister (who's technically not related then I guess?). One of my aunt's best friends is even allergic--well she's allergic to wheat, not the gluten, but basically is gluten-free. There's even a couple gluten-free bakeries in New York right now, most famously the Babycakes Bakery, that's been featured in many publications and on TV. I don't have a problem with gluten-free baking and rather enjoy researching gluten-free recipes to accomodate my loved ones, and now that I'm living a more salubrious diet, I don't really miss the gluten despite my mom being a master baker and it's hard to resist a homemade challah when I come home to visit. However there's one problem that I've especially had to conquer: Many gluten-free desserts are very deceptively UNHEALTHY and caloric. In fact, if you look on Babycakes' website, one cupcake has over 300 calories! Therefore, I made it my mission to find a somewhat healthier but still tasty cupcake that my sister can still enjoy. Unlike Babycakes Bakery, mine aren't vegan, but they barely use any sugar and are still probably at least half the fat of one of their treats, even with the use of eggs. Just don't tell anyone the secret ingredient, which is chickpeas--people will seriously not know--and these cupcakes will not only be less caloric but they will have a substantial amount of protein as well! I got the base of this cupcake recipe from The Cupcake Project blog, and substituted some healthier ingredients in. Check it out:

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate-PeanutButter Hummus
Makes about 20-24 regular sized cupcakes
*Note: I used a special heart-shaped cupcake pan, which yielded about 18

1 3/8 c. garbanzo bean flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 3/8 c. almond flour (again, I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c. stevia or stevia/sugar blend (I used Truvia brand of stevia)
2 heaping tbsp Better' n Peanut Butter (I got mine from Trader Joe's, and it has 85% less fat and 40% less calories than regular peanut butter, without any preservatives, trans fat or saturated fat, but you can use natural peanut butter with no additives if you want.)
1/2 c. light mayonnaise or Tofutti cream cheese or 0% Greek yogurt (if you're not lactose intolerant)
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 c. boiling water
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs or 1 banana, mashed (vegan alternative)
1/2 c. EVOO--Extra Virgin Olive Oil. *Note: A good substitute for baking with oil is applesauce if you'd like to try it.

Low-Fat Chocolate Peanutbutter "Nutella Hummus":
1 can of garbanzo beans (I used a 15. 5 oz can of the Goya brand) drained and rinsed several times
1 to 1 1/2 bars dark chocolate (70% or up--I like Lindt brand)
1/2 c. Better'n Peanut Butter or regular peanut butter
1/2 c. Toffuti sour cream or cream cheese
1/2 c. agave nectar (a low-glycemic natural plant sweetener used to make tequila, but feel free to use stevia instead)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa + 3 packets of raw stevia (add more if you want it to be more chocolatey but then add more stevia or agave)

Chocolate Ganache:
4 squares dark chocolate
1/8 c. unsweetened almond milk

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Spray muffin pan with Pam or if using normal-shaped muffin pans (I have heart shaped, dinosaur shaped, monster shaped besides the regular ones), line with aluminum cupcake liners and lightly spray liners.
3) Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
4) Mix together mayonnaise or Tofutti cream cheese with the almond milk in a small bowl.
5) Add the eggs, peanut butter, olive oil, and beat until smooth before gradually adding dry ingredients.
6) Boil the water in the microwave and pour into the batter, covering the edges with a paper towel as you mix it in as it might splatter.
7) Pour into muffin tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.
8) Remove from muffin tin and let cupcakes cool on a rack while the next batch bakes.
9) Meanwhile, melt chocolate with the peanut butter in a glass measuring cup in the microwave on high for about 1 minute, in two 30 second intervals, stirring the mixture together in between with a spoon until it's fully melted. *Can also melt in a double boiler if you have one.
10) Dump garbanzo beans with Tofutti sour cream and agave nectar into a food processor along with the melted chocolate-peanut butter mixture and grind until smooth and creamy (you don't want a grainy frosting with bits of beans in it).
11) Set aside in the refrigerator while rest of the cupcakes are baking.
12) After cupcakes are done, cool them off on a rack and frost them before serving.
13) For ganache, Heat chocolate almond milk for the ganache in the microwave on high in 30 second intervals for 1 minute (or melt in double boiler).
14) Spoon mixture into a small zip-lock bag.
15) Cut a small corner off of one side and close the bag. Garnish cupcakes with chocolate ganache and let the chocolate harden for a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 12: Kosher Cheesey Green Eggs and Ham

"I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam I am." --Dr. Seuss

Despite my tribute to the famed Dr. Seuss poem,  you're probably wondering how the hell ham can in fact be kosher AND even if I didn't use real ham, how mixing milk and meat can even be considered as kosher. WELL, it's not, haha, which is why it's a good thing that not only did I not use real ham, but I didn't even use any meat product at all! And trust me, unlike the excerpt from the poem declares, you will like this version; call me crazy (or as my good friend Vinny says, "Girl, you so cray-cray!"), but you'll understand when you see the recipe below:

Green Eggs with Veggie Ham and Aged Asiago Cheese
 Makes 1 serving

1 large egg
1/4 c. sliced aged asiago cheese (or any aged cheese like Gouda, which is VERY gooda, get it? Or even a nicely aged cheddar would do)
2 tbsp green tomato salsa--MINE was specially made by my super awesome friend, Katie O'Rourke, with freshly grown tomatoes. Shout out!
1 frozen Italian spiced veggie sausage link (I used Light Life's Italian Style Veggie Protein Sausage but Yves brand makes a good version too--Note: they are NOT gluten-free, be forewarned! In fact most veggie protein that I've seen has wheat gluten in it but I'm sure nowadays that at least Whole Foods probably carries a gluten-free variety)
1/4 tsp dill
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt
Splash of unsweetened almond milk

1)  Spray a small skillet with Pam olive oil and heat on medium heat
2) Crack egg into a small bowl and mix with the spices, milk and salsa.
3) Defrost veggie link in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.
4) Pour egg mixture into the heated skillet and let it sit for a few minutes.
5) Slice veggie link into 1/4 inch slices (about 1/4 of the link) and put the rest back into the freezer.
6) Place veggie link slices on 1 side of the skillet and top with cheese.
7) Now my omelet failed when I tried to flip it over so I ended up making scrambled eggs but if that works for you, great--that was my original intention anyway! I probably left in the pan too long before attempting to flip it...
8) Let omelet or scrambled eggs cook for a minute or two and remove from skillet to serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 11: The Gourmet Bus Ride

So those of you who have been following this blog will know that I'm in Syracuse right now for a little family 'vacay' that involves my dad's annual kosher Chinese banquet at my synagogue Saturday night. With Amtrak's inflated train fares, I've been riding by bus for my home excursions, most recently Greyhound because Megabus has only three times available for Syracuse. Anyway, most people usually end up buying something at the bus station or they pack a boring lunch of crackers and cheese or peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. Well not only am I mostly gluten free nowadays thanks to my sister's new diet, those two options were just not happening. Therefore, I prepared a big salad for us to share (and yes, it really was a big salad, not two small salads mixed together in one big container, for those of you Seinfeld fans out there, myself included). I unfortunately forgot to photograph it due to the lack of time, but rush or no rush, the salad definitely made the uncomfortable bus ride more bareable.

Tangy Shrimp Verde Salad
Makes 2 servings

14 pre-cooked frozen shrimp
3 c. Romaine lettuce
1 c. fresh spinach
1/2 c. chopped palmitos
1/2 c. chickpeas
1 small head of broccoli

1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp dried mint (or fresh if you have it)
1/2 tsp dill

1) Thaw shrimp in a bowl in the microwave on high for 4-5 minutes and remove the skins.
2) Chop up Romaine, palmitos and broccoli and rinse in a colander with the fresh spinach.
3) Place in large tupperware, topping it with the palmitos and chickpeas
4) Arrange shrimp on top in a circle so it's pretty (again, sorry for no photo example)
5) Pour dressing on top and let it soak into the salad in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes
6) Remove salad from fridge and serve immediately (or when you get onto a bus--but pack an ice pack if you don't plan on eating it within the next several hours as you don't want the shrimp to give you an upset stomach from being in room temperature for too long, although the lime juice should preserve its freshness for a while). 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit! Stay tuned for my gluten-free cupcakes that I'll be making soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 10: A Winter's Tale

So I had a bad case of a 24 hour stomach bug yesterday, hence no blog post, despite the yummy homemade garlic-chicken soup my sister made for me (she cooks too!). All is not lost though. For those of you literary lovers who actually relish in tackling a Shakespeare play, I'm unfortunately not one of them. That's not to say that I don't enjoy seeing a Shakespeare play or a movie loosely based on it such as the amazing Shakespeare in Love and other quirky teen dramas like 10 Things I Hate About You, She's the Man, and finally the Disney adaption of Hamlet in The Lion King. However, on this cold cold night...actually in New York City, it doesn't really feel like winter yet, but in other parts of the country, snow has finally come, especially in the Pacific Northwest right now according to my trusted site. So I'll leave you with a winter stew that you can make with ingredients you may have in your pantry, freezer and in my case refrigerator since I was trying to clean it out tonight to prevent some produce from spoiling while I'm home in Syracuse starting tomorrow.

*Disclaimer: I will be posting some recipes from Syracuse, so be on the lookout for my some gluten-free chocolate cupcakes from The Cupcake Project (adapted with my healthier ingredients), my mom's Shabbat dinner friday night, and some gluten-free macarons! AND let's not forget my dad's infamous kosher Chinese dinner at my synagogue on Saturday night--I will be posting the menu online, so be prepared to salivate...

French-Indian Spiced Shrimp and Veggie Bisque
Makes 4 servings

2-3 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves (*Note: can use frozen spinach or any other frozen leafy veggie like collard greens)
2-3 handfuls of kale with stalks removed
3 stalks of Swiss chard
1- 15oz. can of pumpkin
2 dozen frozen raw or cooked shrimp
1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp margarine
1/2 15oz. can of chickpeas
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
3/4 c. of water
1 tsp seafood seasoning (again, I used La Flor brand)
2 tsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar (a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the cactus plant)
1/2 tsp. ginger paste
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash's Fiesta Lime seasoning

Indian Spice Mix:
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

My Garnishes:
1/8 c. tomato-basil sauce
1 tbsp part-skim ricotta
1 tsp. chopped chives

My Sister's Garnishes:
1/2 c. grated Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar or McAdam Mild Cheddar (both are lactose free cheeses)

1) Heat a large skillet on medium heat and throw in 1 tbsp margarine
2) Spoon in 1/2 a can of chickpeas with the Parmesan cheese, fiesta lime seasoning and black pepper.
3) Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until the chickpeas soak up the spices and cheese and mash them with a fork in the skillet afterwards. Set aside.
4) In a medium sized pot, dump in pumpkin, lime juice, Balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, 2 remaining tbsp margarine, unsweetened almond, and veggies and stir on high heat until veggies are saturated in broth. Let simmer on a lower heat while preparing the rest of the stew.
5) Heat up shrimp in a small bowl the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high. 
6) Add cold water to the bowl to cool down the shrimp and discard the skins with your fingers.
7) Dump shrimp and their juices into the soup along with the mashed chickpeas and stir for a few minutes, raising the heat a little. Once the stew is boiling slightly, turn off the heat.
8) My sister can't have acidic vegetables/fruits, so I garnished my bowl with the tomato-basil soup and ricotta, and then garnished hers with grated lactose-free cheese.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 8: A Seaside Rendezvous

"I love you madly
Let my imagination run away with you gladly
A brand new angle highly commendable
Seaside rendezvous" --Freddy Mercury

Unlike the notorious song sung by Freddy Mercury from the British rockband, Queen, I did not go on a seaside rendezvous for tonight's dinner. I just felt like using something other than just shrimp, so I thought, why not crabmeat as well? Now, these are way different than New England crabcakes, and I know many people have strong opinions about what constitutes a good crabcake, but I hope you'll like mine!

Spicy Mixed Seafood 'Cupcakes' with Sweet 'n' Sour Swiss Chard-Cucumber Salad
Makes 6 cakes

1- 4.5 oz. can of pink crabmeat (I used Bumble Bee brand)
10 cooked shrimp
3 leaves of Swiss chard with stalks cut off
1 stalk of celery
8- 1/8" thinly slices of cucumber
3 slices of palmitos
8 brussel sprouts
8-10 Spanish olives
1.5 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 c. white vinegar
4 packets of Splenda
1 egg
1 tsp seafood seasoning (I used La Flor brand)
2 tsp Parmesan cheese

12 crushed almonds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dill

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Rinse off Swiss chard really well, to make sure it's not gritty when eating.
3) Combine cucumber slices and Swiss chard leaves in a smallish salad bowl with the vinegar and Splenda. Marinate in refrigerator while preparing the rest of the meal. 
4) Combine topping ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
5) Chop up shrimp, reserving 4 shrimp for garnishing later.
6) Heat palmitos in some water in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until they are soft (like freshly cooked artichoke hearts--have you ever had them?)
7) Remove pits from Spanish olives (if you got them with pits) and chop them into little pieces
8) Chop up celery stalk and Swiss chard stalks into small pieces.
9) Mash palmitos with a fork into a medium mixing bowl and mix in Spanish olives, chopped shrimp, crabmeat, celery, Swiss chard stalks, mayonnaise, egg, Parmesan cheese, and seafood seasoning.
10) Remove leaves off of brussel sprouts, saving the center 'bulbs'. 
11) Spray a muffin pan with Pam olive oil and line the inside with brussel sprout leaves.
12) Spoon in seafood mixture and sprinkle topping over each cup. Place brussel sprout 'bulb's in the center of the muffin cups. ** See note below.
13) Bake for about 35 minutes until the topping is browned on top.
15) Take out Swiss chard leaves and cucumber from the refrigerator and arrange on a plate.
16) Remove seafood cakes from oven and carefully spoon out the 'seafood cupcake' on top of the salad.
17) Place two of the reserved shrimp on top for a garnish and serve immediately. 
Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

**Note: As an alternative if you want more of a traditional cake:
 1) Bake the brussel sprout leaves on a small baking sheet for about 35 minutes or until they crispy around the edges.
2) Meanwhile, generously spoon out some of the seafood mixture into the bowl with the topping and roll until it is coated. 
3) Grease a medium skillet with Pam olive oil on medium-high heat and dump in each crab cake, flatting the top with a rubber spatula, cooking it for a few minutes.
4) Carefully flip the cake over with the spatula and let it cook for another few minutes, until the cake is browned on both sides.
5) Arrange the Swiss chard and the cucumber slices on a plate.
6) Arrange brussel sprout leaves to make a small 'cup' on top of the salad.
7) Place seafood cake in the 'cup' and place brussel sprout 'bulb' in the center.
8) Arrange shrimp on top for garnish and serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 7: In Honor of My Father

Not gonna lie--my dad one pretty badass culinary genius when it comes to Chinese food. Long story short, my twin sister and I were raised by multiple nannies growing up, who were all students that got free room and board by helping my mom take care of us in return. When we were in pre-school/kindergarten, we had a Chinese student come over named Yiping. She grew up extremely poor (I'm talking no-running-water-nor-electricity-in-her-house poor) and fled the student riots in Tiananmen Square (kind of like the student protests revolving around Occupy Wall Street right now). While taking care of us, my dad helped her get her degree, learn English,  and in return, she taught him the ways of Chinese cuisine. Now, my dad is a so-called Chinese food expert, and makes banquets every year, and he wrote a kosher-Chinese cookbook titled, From Lokshen To Lo Mein. Because of this, I made the recipe in his honor and used quinoa, which is a really good source of protein along with the tofu noodles! More Chinese recipes to come as Chinese New Year a week from Monday! AND it's the lucky year of the Dragon, so my dish will definitely be special. :)

Chinese Four-Layer Vegetarian Tier
Makes 2 servings

1/2 c. quinoa
half package of tofu noodles (same brand as mentioned in previous blogs)
1/2 c. crushed almonds
1 egg
1 c. frozen collard greens
1/2 c. fresh or frozen spinach (I had fresh)
1/4 of large eggplant (basically cut off one end, like in the stuffed eggplant boats recipe)

Chinese Oil:
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce (I used La Choy brand because it's gluten-free)
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic adobo
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp allspice (should really be Chinese 5 Spice but I didn't have any)
1 packet of Splenda
2 tsp lime juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Cook quinoa in microwave on high for about 10 minutes (same as rice and it will have directions on the box) and let it settle for a few minutes
3) Grind almonds if you bought them whole (if not, ignore this step, haha)
4) Drain tofu noodles in colander
5) Zap the eggplant in the microwave for 2-3 minutes
6) Combine ingredients to make the Chinese oil in a small bowl.
7) In a larger bowl, mix quinoa with egg and almonds
8) Pour in half of the Chinese oil and stir until the mixture clumps together.
9) Line cupcake pan with aluminum cups and spoon in the quinoa mixture, topping it with a small spoonful of the tofu noodles.
10) Bake in oven for 35-35 minutes--until the tofu noodles look somewhat crispy on top.
11) Meanwhile, pour the remainder of the chinese oil into a large skillet and heat on medium heat for a few minutes
12) Dump in remainder of the tofu noodles along with the collard greens and spinach leaves.
13) Sautee on medium heat until the greens look wilted, lower the heat and let it simmer until the quinoa is done.
14) Once the quinoa is baked, I TRIED to remove the quinoa from the cupcake liners, thinking I'd have  nice quinoa cakes, but they fell apart, SO, just carefully separate the crispy tofu noodle topping and spoon out baked quinoa from 1 liner onto the center of a plate--you can save the remaining quinoa for a later dish. *Note: I think next time, I'll throw 2-3 more eggs in to see if it'll form a sturdier cake.
15) Place wilted greens on top of quinoa with the sautéed tofu noodles on top.
16) Layer the eggplant on top the tofu noodles and then top that with the crispy tofu noodle garnish and voila! A pretty tiered dish to eat!

Bon Appetit and Gambé! (That's 'Cheers' in Chinese)

Day 6: The Delicious Mistake

The main thing I love about cooking is the ingenuity and like science, it allows you to invent something new. Some inventors adapt recipes and make them their own (my main search engine for looking up recipes is Others use their learnt knowledge of different cultures to create new masterpieces. And then there are the mistakes that turn into unexpected successes that force you to just go with the flow. The point is that not everything turns out the way you had planned, but we have to accept our failures and remember the mistakes that may surprise you.

Among my research of the newest food trends, anyone who's a foodie has seen the abundant appearance of kale on restaurant menus, as well as fashionable healthy treats such as kale chips being sold at organic grocery stores such as Trader Joe's or Whole Foods; I like to call them designer grocery stores because of their obscene prices, but like haute couture, you get what you pay for...sometimes. :) Accordingly, I decided to try my own take on kale chips and Moroccan spiced chickpeas for some healthy side dishes/snacks. Well, after baking them for 35 minutes, I thought they needed about 20 minutes more...WELL, the chickpeas ended up being crunchy, spicy and delicious, but the kale chips were burnt so much that they crumbled like ashes in your mouth...not a complete failure because they still had some of the kale flavor versus burnt charcoal. Since I'm a poor student, I immediately thought, "Oh no, I just wasted half a bunch of kale!" However, all was not lost and I mended my error by doing the following:

Since I broke the blender, I noticed a small coffee grinder in my kitchen and thought, well if it grinds coffee beans, it'll grind baked chickpeas! Sure enough, it was a success. Crumbling the burnt kale into the mixture, I added the egg yolks left over from the Ricotta Mousse and voila, kale falafel patties with kale chickpea mash that I saved and added some canned salmon for a later treat! Here's the recipe if you're still intrigued:

Kale Falafel Patties with Moroccan Spiced Chicken
Makes 2-3 servings

1 can of chickpeas (I used Goya Brand--it's a little under 16 oz.)
enough fresh kale to fill a 12 quart mixing bowl--half a bunch let's say?
6 small chicken breasts (or 2-3 large breasts...chicken breasts that is.)
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime mix
2 tsp Parmesan cheese
3-4 egg yolks

Moroccan Spice Mix:
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ginger

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
3) Rince off kale and break into smaller pieces, discarding the stems
4) Drain chickpeas into a colander and really shake them till the liquid is completely gone.
5) In small mixing bowl, pour in olive oil and the Moroccan spice mix and stir.
6) Place chickpeas on one baking sheet and spread them out so none are on top of each other.
7) Pour 1/2 of the Moroccan oil onto the chickpeas and with hands, make sure they're coated (rinse off oily hands afterwards).
8) Place kale on the other baking sheet and spray Pam olive oil generously on top.
9) Shake Parmesan cheese over kale chips as well as the Mrs. Dash spice.
10) Place pans into oven on two different racks (I put the chickpeas on the lower rack--that may have been my first blunder, the second being the time obviously)
11) Bake for about 50-55 minutes.
12) Meanwhile, defrost chicken breasts in microwave on high for about 7 minutes and marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour in the remaining Moroccan oil.
12) Remove chickpeas and kale from the oven and let them cool down a bit (5 minutes or so).
13) Once cooled, use a food processor (or the coffee grinder if you really want to improvise, haha, although cleaning that thing will be a bitch) to grind up chickpeas into a corse powdery consistency--or if you prefer your falafel to be softer, grind it to a finer consistency.
14) Pour into the small mixing bowl and combine with egg yolks until it starts to form clumps.
15) Clump together round patties.
16) Take out chicken from the refrigerator and pour oil from the bowl into a large skillet, heating it on a medium heat.
17) Once oil starts to boil, place chicken breasts into the pan and sautée for about 5 minutes, depending on the density of the breasts--basically until the chicken is mostly cooked when you slice them with a knife. Push them to one side of the skillet with a spatula and lower the heat a little.
18) Place falafel patties in the skillet on the other side and wait a few minutes, flip them over with the spatula and wait another few minutes until patties are crispy on both sides. Don't worry if they fall apart a little--you can mix that with the chicken breasts (and it all ends up in the same place in the end anyway, right?)
19) Arrange one patty on a plate along with 2 small chicken breasts or 1 large chicken breast. Serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit! By the way, I lost about 3 lbs this week, yay! 17 lbs to go. My goal is Passover, a Jewish holiday that's around Easter time in April. Jews follow the lunar calendar though.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 5: The Art of French Cooking

I was joking with one of my closest friends about being famous one day, and having my blog picked up one day to be a feature film like Julie and Julia. Everyone who loves cooking as much as I do has probably seen that film which detailed a young woman, Julie, who embarks on a conquest to make every recipe from famed chef, Julia Child's, cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. So while I didn't use one of her recipes, I was inspired by her enough to make two French themed recipes today. While they don't use nearly as much butter as normal French cuisine contains, they are a healthier alternative but just as tasty. Seriously, my sister groaned orgasmically (is that a real word?) while eating her share of dinner tonight. I know Julia Child's views on dieting (“The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook” is one her notorious quotes), but trust me, these recipes are so good that it won't even feel like you're dieting. You are what you eat, so you may as well eat well! 

Shrimp and Tilapia Remoulade with Palmitos Served in Romaine Boats 
*Note: I ran out of shrimp so I added in the tilapia, but you could double the amount of shrimp if you have enough.
Makes 2-3 Servings

8-10 unpeeled frozen shrimp (you can also buy it cooked and peeled in the frozen section of the store as well if you want--I know Target carries both options)
half dozen palmitos cut into stripes (palmitos are basically palm hearts already sliced--I have the Goya Brand)
2 filets of tilapia (optional if you have enough shrimp)
2 stalks celery sliced thinly
2/3 c. light mayonnaise
1 tsp chopped chives
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash's Fiesta Lime spice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp black pepper
2 pinches of thyme
2 tbsp mustard (whole grain is better but I just had regular French mustard)
2 tsp minced garlic
6 leaves of Romaine lettuce
1 tsp dill for garnishing

*Note: Remoulade is basically a mayonnaise based sauce, also known as aioli sometimes, kind of like a French version of the American's tartar sauce only without the relish.

1) Cook the shrimp on high in the microwave for about 3 minutes (until they are pink). Remove skins and set aside. 
2) To make the remoulade, whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.
3) Mix in the shrimp and put in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
4) After shrimp has marinated in the sauce, spoon out about 2 tbsp onto the Romaine "boats".
5) Garnish the boats of shrimp with dill.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Spicy Chocolate Peanut Butter Ricotta Mousse 
Makes 6-8 servings

1 3/4 c. part-skim ricotta
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 egg whites
1/2 c. Splenda or Truvia
1 tbsp natural creamy peanut butter (when I say natural, I don't mean the brands that claim that they are natural but then have additives like honey, cane syrup, and other crap--I mean, pure peanut butter--just the peanuts)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Spices to sprinkle on top:
black pepper 
salt (can use sea salt or kosher salt, but I didn't have that so I used Morton's salt. "When it rains, it pours!")

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) With a hand mixer, whisk together ricotta, almond milk, cocoa powder, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, and peanut butter in a large bowl until mixture is creamy. (*You should really use a food processor or blender instead, but I don't have those as I broke my blender last night if you read the previous blog!)
3) Clean off the mixer doodads, and in a medium bowl, beat egg whites and Splenda until stiff peaks form. (Be patient--it takes about 5 minutes. You can daydream about the amazing guilt-free treat you will be enjoying later!)
4) With a rubber spatula, fold in (that means gently stir with the spatula for those novice chefs out there reading this blog) the egg whites into the ricotta mixture. 
5) Pour blended mixture into 6 small ramekins (or you could ceramic oven-proof teacups--I have a bunch from Syracuse China, however, I used 3 mini-loaf pans the previous tenants bought on sale at the Christmas Tree Store and just left them in my apartment, score!)
6) Pour some water about 1/2-3/4 way in a rectangular pan (mine's 13x9x2).
7) Place on second shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes (the tops should be firm when you pat them with your finger, not that I'm condoning touching food with your fingers, unless you're like me, and you don't care because you're just eating it yourself or sharing with close relatives or friends).
8) Remove from oven and let cool for about 5-10 minutes in the casserole dish before removing them.
9) Sprinkle spices on top of mousse for garnish.
10) Refrigerate for at least 3 hours OR I put two pans in the freezer to make a healthier version of ice cream! If you do that, freeze for several hours or overnight and when you take it out of the freezer to eat, let it thaw for a few minutes before digging in.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 4: Eggs and The Cream of Broccoli Soup Disaster

We all learn from our mistakes. Today, for instance, I managed to eat a whole 6 oz. can of chili-lime seasoned almonds...which I will work out tomorrow in a dance-aerobic class! But that is not what the title is referring to. No, here's a little lesson on physics and why my sister and I are not scientists: Boiling liquids should not be put into a plastic blender. What happens is it expands from the heat and a disaster will result like it did tonight. I was helping my sister prepare Cream of Broccoli Soup. Instead of cooking the broccoli separately and blending it to add to the soup, we decided to just blend it with the soup right off the stove, which resulted in that little plastic cover in the center of the lid falling through while we tried to keep the top on. My sister made the soup again (albeit not in the blender the second time around), and it was delicious! However, I forgot to have her to write down the recipe unfortunately, so I'm only going to supply you with 1 tonight, which is what I made for brunch today (I took a photo but I didn't style it right so it didn't look as good as it tasted):

Red Pepper Stuffed with Salmon 'n' Scrambled Eggs with Creamy Blue Cheese-Dill Sauce   
Makes 1 serving

1 end of a red bell pepper cut off (to create a bowl)
1/4 c. Better'n Eggs Southwestern Style (comes with red peppers and spices=yummy)
2 oz. canned salmon (I used Bear and Wolf's Atlantic Salmon from Costco)

Creamy Blue-Cheese Dill Sauce
1 wedge of Light Cow Cheese brand of blue cheese
1 tsp Tofutti cream cheese
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp dill
chopped chives for garnish

1) Zap red pepper bowl in microwave on high heat for about 3 minutes.
2) Mix salmon and egg mixture together with a fork.  
3) Pour mixture into pepper bowl and put into the microwave on high heat for 1- 1 1/2 minutes (until egg is cooked).
4) Place sauce ingredients in a glass bowl and put in the microwave on a high for about 2 minutes in 30 second intervals, making sure the sauce doesn't explode. 
5) Pour sauce onto eggs and garnish with chopped chives
Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

And by the way, I do plan on returning the blender to Target, or trying to--I think there's a warranty on it. ;)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 3: Hey, It's All Greek To Me...

My Big Fat Greek Family is Nia Vardalos' genius of a movie that basically is the perfect interpretation of every ethnic culture out there, but I most certainly identified with it as a Jew. SO, since I was in a Greek mood today, the recipes I post will have a Greek theme to them. :)

Parmesan Tuna Salad with Kalamata Olives Inside Cucumber Cups
Makes 2 servings

1 medium cucumber
1- 4 oz. can tuna in WATER (not oil--that's just gross in my opinion and not that healthy)
6-8 Kalamata olives
2 tsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dill
2 tbsp light mayonnaise--for a healthier alternative, although this would make it a dairy option as well which doesn't work in THIS household (a little amount of Parmesan doesn't affect my sister in case you were wondering), you can substitute 0% non-fat Greek yogurt to make this SUPER Greek, eh?
dash paprika
dash onion powder
black pepper to taste

1) Cut ends off of cucumber and then slice rest of cucumber into I don't know, let's say 3/4" wide slices.
2) With a spoon, scoop out cucumber from the cucumber ends as well as from the slices, BUT, don't   scoop out so much that you create holes in your slices ("There's a hole in this cake."--movie reference, hehe).
3) Cut scooped-out cucumber chunks into smaller cucumber chucks (babies).
4) Remove pits from olives--an easy way I discovered how to do this is to make little slashes on several sides of the olive, remove one part, and the pit should just come out!
5) Chop olive pieces into smaller pieces (more babies, yum).
6) To make tuna salad, mash drained tuna (to make sure it's really drained, when you open the can, press down the lid over the sink, pouring liquid down the drain until no or minimal liquid comes out) with mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, dill, black pepper...was there another spice listed? Oh yeah, don't forget the onion powder, and paprika! 
7) Mix in olives and cucumber chunks.
8) Spoon about 1 tbsp of tuna salad into the cucumber slices and voila! You're done!
Enjoy and Bon Appetit! Hopa! :)

Eggplant Boats Stuffed with Chicken and Swiss Chard Topped with Greek Ricotta-Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Makes 2 serving

2 frozen boneless, thinly sliced chicken breasts defrosted in the microwave for several minutes (enough to be able to chop into pieces)
8-10 Kalamata olives, de-pitted (see recipe above on how to do that)
2 tbsp Ricotta cheese (my grocery store didn't have part-skim, but I would recommend it for a healthier option, although the regular kind is still not that bad for you turns out)
2 handfuls Swiss Chard broken up into smaller pieces (For those of you who don't know what Swiss Chard is, it's one of the newest food trends for vegetables--it looks kinda like lettuce with red veins and red stalks if that makes sense? Feel free to use spinach though if your store doesn't carry it.)
2 tsp Parmesan cheese (I know, I seem to use this in every recipe but it's just so damn good!)
1 tsp garlic adobo sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic (I'm obsessed with garlic and this too is always in my meals, I can't help it)
1/4 c. tomato basil sauce (try to find a brand with less sugar and other additives in it, not necessarily organic, although I think bought an organic sauce at Trader Joe's)
1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium eggplant (you won't be using the whole thing--I will explain below)
3 stalks fresh chives chopped into small pieces

1) Slice off two ends of the eggplant, each 1/4" or so.
2) With spoon, scoop out eggplant from the ends and chop into smaller pieces. 
3) Place eggplant pieces into a medium skillet the tomato sauce, garlic adobo, Swiss chard, Parmesan cheese, and minced garlic.
4) Turn on burner to medium heat and stir ingredients together.
5) Once mixture starts to boil, pour in chicken broth, stir, turn the heat down and let it simmer while you prepare the chicken and eggplant boats
6) In a medium microwavable bowl (glass or porcelain), mix chicken with black pepper and cook on high heat for 3 minutes, until the chicken basically doesn't look raw anymore (nobody wants Salmonella!)
7) Place eggplant boats onto a plate and cook on high heat for another 3 minutes.
8) Spoon chicken-ricotta mixture into eggplant boats and top it with the ingredients from the skillet.
9) Garnish with some chopped chives
Enjoy, Bon Appetit and again shout with me, Hopa! You can pair it with a shot of Ouzo, but don't get too crazy (we ARE trying to be healthy here and not get too feshniged)!

Here's my first photo on this blog! And yes, I made sure to show off my Wolfgang Puck cutting board in the picture (I have the knife set too, teehee)...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 2: The Melting Pot

I'm sure by now living in New York City, you may have heard of the term "melting pot" to describe a mixture of cultures living together in one place. In Latin America, the word "mestizaje" refers to people who have a mix of indigenous Mexican blood and the colonial European blood. Even in Harry Potter, there's a word for mixed people, with the use of the contrived "muggle" to describe a wizard with maybe one parent who's a wizard or no parents who are wizards. (Did I get that right? I'm not one of those crazed fans and stopped reading after Book 4? I forget). Anyway,  with that bit of sociology (I'm taking a winter class, go figure), I've decided to leave you with a recipe I made for brunch today: 

Turkish Poached Eggs with Adobo-Dill Butter Sauce over Broccoli-Pumpkin Stew
Makes 1 serving

1 large egg
1/8 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. frozen broccoli
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Tofutti cream cheese
1 tsp Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp white vinegar

Adobe-Dill Butter Sauce:
1 tsp garlic adobo sauce (I used Great Garlic Adobo brand)
1 tbsp margarine
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper

1) Boil 1 cup of water in a small pot. While water is boiling, you're going to have to multi-task!
2) Prepare sauce by combining ingredients in small saucepan and let simmer on low heat.
3) In the microwave, heat up broccoli with garlic, cream cheese and pumpkin.
4) When water boils, put in vinegar and crack the egg into the pot. Cover with lid and turn down the heat to medium-low for about 2 minutes.
5) Remove poached egg and place into pumpkin broccoli mixture. Use fork to break the egg apart, letting the yolk come out (it should have a runny texture).
6) Mash egg together with pumpkin broccoli mixture, and pour sauce on top. 
7) Garnish with parmesan cheese. 
Enjoy, Bon Appetit! Şerefe! and ¡Salud!

Side Dish for Leftover Baked Fish:
Collard Greens with Spanish Olives, Capers, and Spicy Lemon Sauce
Makes 2-3 servings

3 cups frozen collard greens
12 Spanish green olives with capers and pimento peppers included--for future reference, it's much easier and less annoying to get the pitted ones in a jar; I got a jar with olives that came with capers and pimento peppers (I think it was Goya brand?) but then I had to cut away the olives from the pits, grrr. 
3 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tsp of the olive juice from the jar
6 squirts Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp onion powder
black pepper to taste

1) Spray medium skillet with Pam olive oil or use 1 tbsp of actual olive oil.
2) Bring to medium heat and pour in collard greens
3) Pour rest of ingredients on top
4) Once greens are defrosted in pan, let simmer for 5 minutes on lower heat
5) Serve with baked fish from previous post OR it'd be good with some other leftovers like baked or grilled chicken--whatever floats your boat!
Enjoy and Bon Appetit!