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Three things I LOVE about this recipe:

1. It took like 20 minutes.

2. Considering how FAST it was to make, I assumed the cooking process would be stressful but it was exactly the opposite.  It involves methodical step-by-step additions instead of tending to several things at once.

3.  No need to make a side. This thing covers the better part of the food pyramid.  Pasta, starch, veggies, meat, and cheese!

In short: I made a well-rounded meal like an ADULT in 20 minutes without crying a little or burning anything.  I am the greatest!!!

Now you make it:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 strips of raw thick cut bacon, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp dry red wine
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb gnocchi
5 cups fresh spinach
1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese

Directions:

1.  Chop bacon, dice tomatoes, and mince garlic (I bought pre-minced garlic for this one).  Set aside tomatoes and garlic

2.  On medium heat, cook bacon in a large non-stick skillet, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir for about 30 seconds

3.  Add tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Cook and stir until tomatoes are almost completely broken down, about 5 minutes.  Stir in red wine and salt,  immediately remove from heat.

4.  Cook gnocchi in boiling water until they float, about 3-6 minutes depending on the package directions. While gnocci is cooking, place spinach in a collander.  Drain gnocchi over the leaves, wilting them slightly.

5.  Add gnocchi and spinach to the sauce in the pan.  Add parmesean cheese. Toss to combine.  Eat.

I topped with more cheese, because cheese. Italian parsley might be good too!

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Adapted from: calorie count

 

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It’s mid-July and we are in the crux of summer.  My skin is mosquito-bitten, speckled, and slightly sunburned- so I’m right on cue.  I like summer as much as the next person, but I’m also a ginger harboring the same muted enthusiasm for summer heat and beach babe-dom as a 70-year old Newfoundland fisherman.  You will find me in a dark theater or an empty bar long before you will find me at a hot crowded beach.

My new favorite thing to do is eating pasta salad in the shade while reading a magazine.  I’m happy to incorporate this recipe to that summer “activity”

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups gemelli pasta
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup diced onions
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup ricotta
2 tbsp torn basil leaves
black pepper
crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions:

1.  Boil pasta in water with salt.  Drain.  transfer pasta to large bowl. Sautee onions with 1 tsbp olive oil in a medium pan.  Stir in the onions, lemon juice, vinegar, and the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil.

2. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.  Add blueberries, ricotta, and basil. Mix until well blended and sprinkle fresh pepper and crushed red pepper. Serve! 

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This recipe hits the nail on the head.  The salty, savory marinated chicken combined with colorful veggies and cashews over rice creates the quintessential stir fry dish.  SO GOOD.  I have a salt tooth from time to time and this is the meal that brings it on home.

Ingredients:

1 lb of chicken breast, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup miscellaneous veggies (snow peas, carrots, etc. whatever you want to add)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup whole cashews
cooked white rice

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sherry and ground ginger. Add chicken pieces and stir to evenly distribute the marinade. Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes while you prep the veggies.

2. Steam veggies however you prefer til they are tender but not too soft.  Set aside.

3. Now for the fun:  mix half of your canola oil with garlic powder in large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Add cashews and stir continuously for 3 minutes.  Immediately transfer cashews to a bowl and set aside.

4. Reduce heat to medium.  Add the remaining canola oil to the pan and stir in the chicken and veggies.  Stir constantly for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Stir in the cashews and take off heat.  Serve immediately over rice.

Adapted from: half hour meals

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In the midst of this slowwww (herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter)  slow pace of spring up here, I’ve been craving something both fresh and warm.

I saw a recipe for a warm butternut squash salad a few years ago that looked phenomenal.   But that gourd has dominated the winter soups, salads, and pastas and I’m officially squashed-out.  Instead, I thought sweet potato would be perfect.

Ingredients:

salad:
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch coins
1 15-oz. can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 of a medium red onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper

dressing:
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder

(if you can find tahini paste, just use that, lemon juice, and garlic powder for the dressing)

Directions: 

Preheat oven 375 degrees

1.   For the dressing: place sesame seeds in food processor and grind until smooth. Add sesame oil, salt, and water. Process until fully blended. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in lemon juice and garlic powder and set aside.

2.  Coat baking sheet with olive oil. Place sweet potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Take out of the oven and carefully flip each piece and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes until both sides are slightly brown. Test with a fork. If it’s marshmallow-y and soft, it’s done. Add salt and pepper.

3. Cut up the sweet potato coins into 1 inch cubes. Combine the squash, chickpeas, and onion in a medium, microwave-safe mixing bowl.  Pop in the microwave for 30 seconds. Toss in the tahini dressing. Sprinkle parsley. Serve immediately.

 

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BLT Salad

April 1st, 2013

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A salad that tastes exactly like a BLT. I know, it seems like another one of those “salad traps” (that old chestnut..) where the salad pusher is straight-up lying to you. They say their salad is satisfying and comparable to whatever food it’s imitating, but it’s always a farce.  For the most part, the salad version of a meal you love is disappointing.  Taco salad is the worst offender- taking a glorious fiesta-in-your-mouth portable pocket and making it a cold, slimy chore to eat. Yes it has all the taco ingredients, but now it sucks.

This salad, however, provides the full BLT experience (the BLT experience. new band name. take it someone, it’s a freebie.) in that it really does taste like the sandwich. This will be your first bite reaction (at 0:20):

In this scenario, your brain is slapping your tastebuds in disbelief.

Ingredients:

3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1+1/2 cups seasoned croutons
10 slices thick-cut bacon
1/3 cup low-fat mayo
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp garlic salt
black pepper

Directions:

1. Cook bacon however you prefer. Drain grease,  chop bacon into 1 inch crumbles, set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine mayo, milk, garlic salt, and pepper.  Whisk until blended.

3. Combine lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and croutons in a large salad bowl. Toss with dressing, and serve immediately.

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It’s perfect to make for a dinner party or a large crowd. Just be wary- your friends may slap you in the face (revisit the video above) and accuse you of witchcraft.. I mean, you did just make a salad taste like the world’s most perfect sandwich.  Yep. Witch, fo sho.

 

adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/blt-salad/

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This post features a guest cook/my best bud, Jenny.  Jenny is an avid sailor and skier, a teacher, marine biology nerd, Bill Murray fan, occasional boozehound,  and all-around great human.  While at College of Charleston, she started making half-quesadillas as a quick meal and sometimes hangover solution (if her mac and cheese supplies had diminished).

Buying a quesadilla maker seems as ridiculous as buying a mini pie maker (what??) or some other single purpose kitchen electronic/countertop-space-monopolizer, but I’ve considered it once or twice because I can’t seem to flip anything larger than a pancake without making a huge mess.  Jenny’s method eliminates the need to flip.  You lay the tortilla flat with its toppings face up,  fold it over, and repeat. Blam. Well done, Jenny.

Quantity: 2
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

1 lb raw shrimp
2 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper

salsa:
1 avocado, cut into 1″ cubes
2 beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

2 large tortillas
approx. 3/4 cup feta cheese
approx. 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Combine salsa ingredients and set aside.

2. Mix raw shrimp, cumin, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  With a large skillet, toss shrimp in oil over medium heat until both sides appear fully cooked.

3.   Sprinkle cheddar evenly over tortillas, but add feta to one half. Add desired amount of shrimp and salsa on the same side as the feta. On medium heat, coat a large pan with cooking spray and slide one of the tortillas onto the pan. Once it look like the underside has browned, fold the empty side over and firmly press the tortilla with a spatula. Take off heat and let it sit on the pan for a few minutes.

4. Repeat with second tortilla. Serve!  Goes very well with a sweet salsa like this one

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More stupid kitchen tools:

http://ecosalon.com/unipurpose-single-purpose-kitchen-tools-and-utensils/
Electric pancake maker? Wtf, man.

http://technorati.com/technology/gadgets/article/10-ridiculous-kitchen-gadgets/
How to lure a finicky eater: alter his/her hot dog to resemble something that is also slimy.

 

 

Just beet it.

February 12th, 2013

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My heart beets for you. Valentine’s day is around the corner. If you happen to be making dinner and are looking for a festive salad, look no further than the deep red beet. 

What takes this salad to the next level is the dressing. OH my god this dressing.  The recipe is adapted from my mom’s all-time favorite.  It’s  light, warm, subtle and goes beautifully with almost any salad. 

Ingredients:

Salad:
5 cups baby spinach and arugula
4-6 steamed beets (depending on how much you like beets), sliced
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3/4 cup feta cheese
ground pepper

Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

1. If almonds are raw, bake in a small pan at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, boil garlic in water for 10 minutes and drain. Mash garlic and salt to a paste. Using a jar or tupperware container, add all dressing ingredients and shake shake shake until dressing is fully blended!  The original directions involve whisking, but this is much faster.

3. In a large bowl, toss spinach and arugula while slowly adding the dressing until you’ve reached your desired amount. Note: I used about half of the dressing, there should be plenty left over! Divide salad amongst the plates and top with beets, feta, almonds and pepper.

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If you want to go extra-dweeb on this one and use hearts of romaine, go for it. Have fun with the awkward “trying to take a cute bite of a big-ass leaf” scenario while on your date though.

Curry Ginger Squash Soup

February 3rd, 2013

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Ohh hey there squash. Come here often? Well in my kitchen you do, you delicious minx.

My mom and I got this recipe from my cousin Nina (who gave me this awesome book for xmas), and it is a superb, nay a superior addition to its preceding soups (seen here and here).

Serves: 4
Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb butternut squash, cut into 2 inch cubes
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup diced onion
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp crushed pistachios (optional)
ground pepper

Directions:

1. In a large pot on high heat, boil squash for in water for 30 minutes and then let simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes until squash is soft enough to pierce with a fork all the way through.

2. In the meantime, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a medium pan at medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook til lightly browned. Set aside.

3. Drain squash. Pour it back into the pot and mash into mush with a potato masher. Return to stove and set to medium-low heat. Add broth, onions, and butter. Let it heat up for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in ginger, curry powder, and salt.  Add pepper to taste.

4. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle pistachios over the center. Serve!

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Keeps for 2-3 days.  For some reason, the soup loses water and gets very thick after a day, so you might need to add more chicken broth before reheating.

Enjoy!

P.S. WONDERFUL NEWS: Patrick’s sister Ashley and her husband Colin had their baby Friday night. His name is Finn Edward McCabe and he is beautiful.  Congratulations new parents and welcome to the world, little one:

 

 

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Ingredients:

2 slices of your favorite bread
1 slice provolone
2 tbsp feta
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup spinach
1 tsp balsamic
1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

1. Place provolone and spinach on one slice and avocado and feta on the other. Drizzle balsamic over feta.

2. Put slices together and brush the outside of the bread with olive oil.

3.  Grease medium pan with non-stick cooking spray and set burner to medium high. Cook and flip over until both sides are golden brown.

Adapted from Tastespotting

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I sing when I eat sometimes. Not ashamed. It is OK to express yourself.  Patrick once danced with his cupcake to “Let’s Stay Together” at a wedding, and I can only assume it was a really really good cupcake.

Much like the super weird proclamation by Tracy Morgan of 30 Rock, I sang this to my sandwich:

Homemade Chinese Takeout

January 21st, 2013

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Last Thursday I had the biggest craving for sesame chicken.  Rather than order 2 pounds of chicken (with dark, grayish meat.. ew), eating it in it’s entirety, then be sluggish and useless for the rest of the day, I decided to make my own.

Recently I discovered Wegmans chicken breast strips are all white meat and low-cal. These were perfect for my healthier chinese food creations.

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS:

6 breaded white meat chicken tenders
2 cups white rice, cooked
1 cup broccoli florets, steamed (for sesame chicken)

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tbsp ketchup
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Sesame Sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp sesame seeds
a pinch of ginger and cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

Sweet and Sour Chicken:

1.  Combine all ingredients for sweet and sour sauce in small bowl. Mix well and refrigerate for one hour.

2. Pre-heat oven. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with chicken tenders.  Let bake for however long your time instructions provide, but take out 10 minutes early.  Pour a generous amount of sauce over each chicken tender and put in the oven for 5 minutes.  Flip tenders over and pour sauce on the other side then put back in the oven for the remaining 5 minutes.

3.  Let cool for a few minutes, then cut tenders into 2″ pieces. Spoon over rice, add a little more sauce if you’d like, and serve!

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Sesame Chicken:

1. Preheat oven. Combine all ingredients for sesame sauce in a small bowl. No need to refrigerate.

2. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with chicken tenders.  Let bake for however long your time instructions provide, but take out 6 minutes early.  Pour a generous amount of sauce over each chicken tender and put in the oven for 3 minutes.  Flip tenders over and pour sauce on the other side then put back in the oven for the remaining 3 minutes.

3.  Let cool then cut tenders into 2″ pieces.  Mix in a bowl with steamed broccoli add a little more sauce to ensure that broccoli is lightly coated.  Spoon sesame chicken and broccoli over rice and serve.

 

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It’s possible to make them both at the same time as long as you take into account the final detail: adding the sesame sauce a little later than the sweet and sour.  I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the brown sugar, but the sesame sauce will burn and blacken if in the oven too long.  These were both DELICIOUS and satisfied my takeout craving.  Can’t wait to make this again!

Sauces adapted from here and here