Friday, June 29, 2012

Honey Bourbon Pulled Pork

Some days you just need a drink.

Normally, I'm a beer or wine gal, but I had bourbon in my house for this recipe, so I thought I would try it on the rocks to conclude my stressful day. However, I took 2 or 3 sips and decided that I cannot get behind drinking straight liquor; I prefer to eat my bourbon, especially when it takes on the form of the DELICIOUS barbecue sauce. 

I won't make you listen to all the details of my day yesterday, but I should have known that it wasn't going to be a great day when I was almost to work and I remembered that I totally forgot to turn on the crockpot before I left my apartment. Here is my sad non-cooked pork after I made the trip back home :(

Maybe because of the extra drive home and back, my little car started to get sick and made some funny noises on my way home. It is a good thing I had this liquor pulled pork waiting to cheer me up.

I think I've mentioned it before, but I love my crockpot. One of my fav things to make is pork loin. I usually pick up a large (3-5 lb) pork loin when they are on sale, cut it into manageable pieces (1 lb), and freeze it. Then I can thaw it, let it cook all day in some seasonings and sauce, come home to a great smelling apartment, and enjoy pork that essentially melts in your mouth. Of course, it is completely necessary to make extra for pulled pork nachos or burritos or salad or really anything your mind imagines. I tried this new recipe yesterday that is a homemade bourbon barbecue sauce. I adapted the recipe a bit; originally the blogger used chicken as the protein of choice. I changed up a few seasonings and went with pork instead. It is definitely a winner!

Honey Bourbon Pulled Pork (sauce recipe adapted from Healthy Delicious)
1 lb pork loin, thawed
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1/2 cup diced onion
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon (I used
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat broiler.

Using a sharp knife, make 1/2 inch slits in the pork (as many as necessary for your garlic pieces, probably 8-12). Shove the garlic pieces into the slits, making sure that they are at least even with the pork's surface (or they will burn... I speak from experience). Broil the pork for approximately 10 minutes.

In your slow cooker, combine the onion, ketchup, water, bourbon, honey, molasses, vinegar, tomato paste, worcestershire, ginger and CRP. Mix to combine. Place the pork on top of the sauce and scoop some of the sauce to cover it.

Cook on low 8-12 hours (or high 4-5 hours).

Using two forks (or a knife), shred the pork directly in the slow cooker. Mix to allow for the sauce to coat all of the pork.

Serve on toasted hamburger buns.

P.S. Dinner tonight. Barbecue pulled pork quesadillas! YUM!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Verde Turkey Enchiladas

I really hope that name doesn't scare you away from this dish. I promise the turkey isn't green. It is the sauce that is green-- this delicious enchilada sauce made from roasted tomatillos and poblano peppers that you may want to eat atop some tortilla chips as a salsa instead. Or maybe straight out of the food processor with a spoon.

Remember when I showed you that disgusting sink? If you look closely, the remnants in the food processor are not from the hummus. They are green! Yes, I washed the food processor, I think, three times that night. You gotta do what you gotta do. Especially when you are making good food.


I know "normally" verde enchiladas are stuffed with chicken or just cheese, but anyone who knows me, knows I'm not normal, so here we are with ground turkey. The mix of the enchilada sauce with the turkey and feta cheese is great. With the melted mixed cheese on top, it becomes quite a delectable meal. Serve it topped with some sour cream or greek yogurt to put it completely over the edge. As always, I've replaced any cilantro with parsley. If you are a cilantro lover (or liker), feel free to use that instead. Just please don't invite me to dinner. :)

Verde Turkey Enchiladas (Sauce adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventure)
Enchilada Sauce:
2 poblano chiles, stemmed and seeded
1/2 lb tomatillos, husks removed, washed and dried
1/8 cup chicken broth (low sodium, preferred)
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup feta cheese (or crumbled queso fresco)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
4 9-in flour tortillas (I used low carb tortillas)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I would suggest Mexican or Colby jack)

For the sauce, preheat your broiler with an oven rack about 6-in from the top. Place the poblanos and tomatillos on a foil lined baking sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Broil until blacked and soften, about 10 minutes, turning to cook evenly.

Let the veggies cool until you can handle them. Remove the skins from the poblanos.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the tomatillos, poblanos, broth, onion, garlic, parsley, lime juice, oil and sugar. Pulse until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can keep this in the fridge for up to two weeks in an airtight container.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the turkey until completely browned, approximately 5-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, feta cheese, 1/8 cup minced parsley and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Warm the tortillas in your oven until they are pliable. Then fill each tortilla with 1/4 of the turkey mixture and roll up. Add 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce to the bottom of a baking dish and put the tortillas on top. Cover with the rest of the enchilada sauce and then top with the shredded cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with rest of parsley. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Serves 2-4.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bombay Sloppy Joes

One of my friends (Hi Maria!) put in a request for Indian food. I have to admit that I'm not an expert on Indian cuisine. I mean, I like an Indian buffet as much as the next guy (if you're in Durham NC, you should go to Dale's for lunch), but I haven't really experimented with it in the kitchen. I like to make curry, but I think I mostly make Thai curry recipes. When I'm at the buffet, I load up just about everything on my plate. By the time I'm back to the table, the flavors have mixed and I can't even remember what exactly I'm eating. So, to tell you the truth, when faced with the assignment of Indian food, I wasn't quite sure where to start.

Of course, you must turn to an expert in the cuisine to get you on the right path. I remember watching Aarti win the Next Food Network Star a few years ago, and her P.O.V. was making Indian cuisine accessible for the home cook. I'm a home cook, so I went to and flipped through all of her recipes. I bookmarked and pinned a number that looked delicious. I'll be trying them out and reporting here.

From what I've learned about Indian cuisine so far, it is all about spices and flavor! That means you may need to revamp the spice cabinet. You're going to need some garlic, ginger, curry, coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, cardamon, hot chiles and others. I was able to find the necessary ingredients at Meijer, but you may need to make a trip to a specialty store.

Side note: Speaking of spice cabinets, I now have A LOT of spices that are spilling off of my lazy susan, and consequently, I have to pull out at least 25 bottles to find the one I need. Any suggestions for better organization? Or anyone want to build me one of those spice drawers that organizes them all?

Ok, so for Indian Recipe #1, I chose these Bombay sloppy joes. I know they aren't really what you are going to order from an Indian restaurant but they are getting me more acquainted with the flavors. Overall, I was very impressed with this recipe. The sweetness of the raisins and honey go perfectly with the cumin and garam masala flavors. The pistachios add a perfect crunch to each bite. As the sauce was simmering away on my stove, I just couldn't wait to dig it. I served it, as Aarti suggests, on a toasted bun, although I think it would be good served over some rice as well. The leftovers heated up well the next day. I think the pistachios will get a little soggy if you wait for too long to reheat any extras. I changed only a few things from her recipe, for convenience and personal preference: I used milk instead of half and half, opted for a green pepper instead of red and swapped the cilantro with parsley (I CANNOT stand cilantro). 

Fair warning: these are "extra schlopy" in the words of the lunch lady from Billy Madison.

Bombay Sloppy Joes (very slightly adapted from Food Network)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp paprika
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 green pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact, do not chop
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
small handful chopped parsley
4-6 hamburger buns

For sauce, warm oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Saute until the ginger and garlic browns. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute 30 sec. Stir in the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 15 min until thickened.

Meanwhile, warm 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet. Add the pistachios and raisins and cook until the raisins plump up and the pistachios are toasted slightly. Remove them from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat and add another tbsp of oil. Add the cumin sees and allow them to sizzle for 10 sec. Stir in the onions and bell pepper and saute until softened and starting to brown. Add the serrano pepper and saute for another few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the turkey and cook until brown, about 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce into the skillet with the turkey and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 10 min.

Remove the serrano pepper. Add the honey, milk, pistachios and raisins. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.

Toast the buns and fill with mixture.

Serves 4.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken and Bean Soup

Confession: I LOVE my slow cooker. I recognize that it doesn't necessarily take a lot of culinary expertise to chop up some vegetables, brown some meat and throw them in a pot with some sauce and seasonings, but dude is it easy! Plus when you walk into your apartment after work, you can smell the delicious food that is just waiting to jump on your plate. All the work has been done while you've been off at work yourself. Perfection on a lazy night! :)

Another confession: Soup on a 95 degree day is not always the best idea... Summer is out in full force this week in IL and Monday was a hot and humid day. I set up this soup, which is fairly light and summer-y in regards to the flavors, in the morning. When I got home, I added the grilled chicken and tomatoes and let it go for the remaining 30 minutes. While I was waiting for it to be ready for consumption, I went for a walk... outside... wearing jeans... (did I mention it was still like 90 degrees outside at 7:00 pm?). I finished the walk, ate my soup, and sat down to watch some TV. About 5 minutes after sitting on the couch, I was sweating up a storm. I may have stood in front of my fan for 10 minutes just trying to decrease the body temperature.

I probably should have looked at the weather forecast alongside my meal planning this week. I mean, today would have been a great day for this soup. A cooler front has come through, we got a little bit of rain, and the temperature is in the high 60s. Ah well, the lessons you learn. That's why I'm telling you- either make sure you've got some good air conditioning or wait until the temperatures are in the 60-80s to make this soup. It is worth it though. It's great! And the leftovers are perfect for lunch.

My favorite part was probably chopping the fennel. The anise flavor makes you think you're about to eat some black licorice. Don't worry, the soup doesn't taste like licorice. Also, suggests using the precooked packaged grilled chicken from the deli section. I chose to grill some myself. Do what you like.

Also, note in the picture, I served the soup in a homemade bread bowl. I made these awhile ago (pre-blog) with whole wheat flour and froze the extras (thawed and rebaked to have with this meal). I don't love these bread bowls, so I'm not going to be sharing the recipe with you. They just turned out a little too fluffy and not quite crusty enough for a bread bowl, in my opinion. I'm going to play around with some more recipes and come up with a fabulous one worthy of sharing on the blog. If you're looking for homemade bread bowls right now, I would suggest buying frozen french bread dough from the grocery store and using that. Or pop over to Panera and buy some bread from them. Or just serve the soup in a regular bowl with some crusty bread on the side. You definitely need that bread for dipping. ;)

Slow Cooker Chicken and Bean Soup (adapted from
1 cup dry great northern beans
6 cups cold water
1 cup chopped onion (1 small to medium onion)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
4 1/2 cups chicken broth (low sodium, preferred)
1 large chicken breast
1 tsp grill seasoning
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste

Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper and the grill seasoning. Grill for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through. I used my George Forman for this, but you can use a grill pan or an outside grill as well. Or just sear it off in a pan. Cool and cut into bite sized pieces. Store in refrigerator until ready to add to soup.

The night before you are going to start your slow cooker, combine the dry beans with the 6 cups of cold water in a large pot. Let soak overnight.

Drain and rinse the beans. Combine beans with the onion, fennel, carrots, garlic, parsley, thyme and chicken broth in your slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours (or high for 4-5 hours).

Turn your slow cooker to high and add the chopped cooked chicken and the diced tomatoes (including liquid from the can). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 30 min on high until everything is heat thoroughly.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Man oh man. I've spent the past approximately 24 hours trying to learn about inflammation. My eyes are tired from staring at my computer and reading articles. My brain is tired because inflammation is one crazy confusing and complicated biological response; although also beautifully complex and intriguing. Ah, but enough about life as a postdoc, let's move on to food. Delicious yummy food.

Chicken cordon bleu is another one of those dishes that I used to think I didn't like. You know what I realized? I don't like those frozen stuffed chicken breasts that you buy pre-prepared or the ones that are served in mass at church functions.

But I do really like this recipe! And the greatest thing about this recipe, it has been re-purposed to have lower caloric and fat content. I got it from this AMAZING cookbook, Now Eat This! by Rocco DiSpirto. He takes all your favorite meals and makes them healthier. I would certainly suggest investing in this cookbook because everything I've made from it so far has been great. I did change a few things from his recipe including using regular panko breadcrumbs instead of whole wheat. That was just what I had, feel free to use either.

Chicken Cordon Bleu (slightly adapted from "Now Eat This!")
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp chopped green onions
4 chicken cutlets (4 oz each), pounded very thin
3 ounces thinly sliced lean ham
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 large egg whites
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray

In a saucepan, whisk the cornstarch into the evaporated milk. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the mixture is thickened, approximately 1 min. Whisk in the cheese until it is melted and smooth. Lastly, whisk in the green onions and chives and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Coat an ice cube tray with cooking spray and pour the cheese sauce equally into 8 of the holes. Freeze until it is hard, at least 2 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on it. Spray the wire rack with cooking spray.

Lay the chicken on a work surface and season with salt and pepper. Divide ham slices evenly over the chicken. Place two cubes of cheese in the center of each piece of chicken. Roll up the chicken to encase the filling and secure with toothpicks (you will probably need at least two toothpicks per chicken).

Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they are foamy. Place the flour and panko in two separate shallow dishes. Dredge each chicken bundle in the flour, dip it in the egg whites to coat completely and then coat with the panko completely.

Place the chicken on the wire rack and spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray. Bake until the breading is golden brown and crispy and the cheese sauce is fully melted, about 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Black Eyed Pea Hummus

What did you do on Saturday night? I spend my night making this:

A complete disaster in my kitchen!

Albeit, a beautiful and yummy disaster. I'll soon be sharing with you some of the things that I made. I included a few labels to get you thinking about what they might be... It really was an enjoyable evening. I donned my apron and kinda just went at it prepping food, following recipes, and making a few things up myself.

One of the things I started out with was hummus. I've been longing to make hummus since I got my new food processor, so I figured it would be a good place to start. Of course, I thought I had chickpeas in my pantry; however, when I went to grab them, I didn't have any. So I went with black eyed peas instead. I roasted a bulb of garlic and combined that with a few seasonings in the processor. The resultant mixture was delicious! I may have ate it with some blue corn chips for dinner. Don't judge. :)

Black Eyed Pea Hummus
1 15-oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 bulb of garlic plus 1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp tahini paste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp water to reach desired consistency
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut off the top part of the garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Remove excess skin and then drizzle top with 1 tsp olive oil. Roast for 45 min. Allow to cool and then squeeze out the bulbs.

Combine the peas, garlic, tahini and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mashed completely. Add the chili powder and paprika and pulse to combine. While the food processor is going, add the olive oil followed by water until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. 

Garnish with extra paprika. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or cut vegetables.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Super Simple Frozen Yogurt Treat

Some days you just need something sweet. Maybe the weather is warm outside and you are craving ice cream to cool you down. Maybe you’re one of those people that buys a bag of Twizzler’s bites at the grocery store because it is on sale and then proceeds to eat the entire bag yourself within two days. Maybe a steaming cup of hot cocoa is what satisfies your sweet tooth. Or a gooey, straight from the oven, burning the roof of your mouth chocolate chip cookie is more your style. Whatever your sugar (or sugar substitute) of choice is, you cannot deny that we all need a dessert now and again.

I’ve told you before that I don’t make desserts that often. Most of the time, I need a special occasion (and people to share the dessert with). You may not guess this if you glanced at my Pinterest board that is full of sweet and decadent desserts. I’m just saving those up for later… let me know if you have a special birthday request. ;) Actually, I really like desserts but I avoid them because since I have no self-control I have trouble eating only a handful of Reese’s pieces or one cookie or really doing any of it in moderation. Especially when there is no one looking at me and judging my second piece of cheesecake. My body is thankful, I have the restraint to at least avoid keeping lots of goodies in the apartment.

However, as I mentioned above, we all need a little sweet something from time to time. My new “favorite”, super easy, super adaptable dessert is homemade frozen yogurt. I got this idea from my parents; so, thanks, Mom and Dad!

There really isn’t a recipe. All you do is take an individual pot of yogurt (whatever kind you want) and mix it with a cup of cool whip (can be regular, lite or fat free). Then you scoop the mixture into a muffin tin containing a cookie crust. For the cookie crust, the easiest is to grind up your cookie (I like graham crackers) and mix with a little bit of melted butter. Then press into muffin liners in the muffin tin. Once you’ve added your yogurt mixture, you just pop them in the freezer. Should be ready to go within a few hours or at least by the next day. I’ve found that one pot will make about 6-8 regular muffin sized treats. However, I’ve also made them in mini-muffin tins as well and those are adorable and bit sized. Or if you want, you can buy the premade individual graham cracker pie crusts and load those up with the filling. Or if you are making it for a crowd, go ahead and do a full pie. I would guess you would need two pots of yogurt and two cups of cool whip. But really, just play around with it.

Next time, I’m making an oreo crust. I betcha that would be great.

Also, in case you were wondering, what is my sweet of choice? Just like with all food, I don’t have one. I may or may not have done each of those things I listed above. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chicken and Barley Greek Salad

One of my favorite grains is barley. I love the way it can be malted into a delicious, refreshing beer that quenches my thirst at the end of a summer (or winter or fall or spring) day. :)

When it comes to cooking with barley, I used to classify it with hearty stews like beef and barley in the crockpot. Perfect for the winter months. However, a few years ago I came across this cold barley salad in a Cooking Light magazine. I love the flavors of a Greek salad-- the salty feta cheese with the refreshing dressing and the pop of black olives. I thought this salad was be a perfect way to turn barley into a yummy summer salad. Boy, did Cooking Light do it right! This is the second (or is it third?) time I've made this salad. It is great because you can make the large batch on the weekend for dinner and continue to eat it for lunch throughout the week. You may find that the cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers get a little soggy by the end of the week, but my guess is it won't last that long. It never does in my house; that's for sure!

Chicken and Barley Greek Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp olive oil
3 cups chicken broth (fat free, low sodium, preferred)
2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 1/2 cup cucumber, cubed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red bell pepper (or any color), cubed
1/2 cup feta cheese (reduced fat, preferred)
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced

Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet over med high heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes on each side until browned. Add 1 cup broth, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Discard broth and shred chicken when cool enough to handle.

Bring the other 2 cups of broth to a boil in a large pan. Add barley, cover, reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork and cool.

Combine chicken, barley, cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, cheese and olives in a large bowl.

Whisk the olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, seasonings, garlic and vinegar in another bowl. Add the dressing to the larger bowl and toss to combine. Cover and chill in fridge until ready to eat.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Avocado Egg Salad

This one's for you, Mom.

Do you have those certain meals that you always eat the same sides with?

Like pork chops, applesauce and macaroni and cheese? Or lasagna, garlic bread and salad with Italian dressing? Or meatballs, mashed potatoes and green beans? Those are just a few that we had in my house growing up. Even to this day, I have trouble eating certain main dishes without the sides that I have been trained to eat alongside them.

So, this weekend when I decided to finally try my hand at the avocado egg salad from Skinnytaste that has been sweeping the Pinterest and blogging communities, I knew I was missing something. You see, whenever my mom makes egg salad (which at her house, and typically at mine, consists of hard boiled eggs chopped and mixed with light Miracle Whip, no mayo), she ALWAYS has barbecue potato chips. Now, I don't normally keep chips in my house this days (because I'll eat them all since I have no self control when it comes to food), so I decided to try my hand at making some homemade bbq potato chips. I cut the potatoes really thin with my mandolin, then brushed them with some bbq sauce mixed with a little salt. I baked them until they got crispy. I must admit that they were pretty good, but that the bbq flavor was not quite as good as a bag of Lays. I need to come up with a spice mix to toss with the chips as opposed to the sauce... that would be better, I think. I'll keep you posted. As for the egg salad, I adapted the recipe slightly to adjust for size and flavor preferences. If you like avocado, I would definitely suggest making this. Although, I won't be removing the old faithful Miracle Whip egg salad from the rotation quite yet.

Avocado Egg Salad (adapted from Skinnytaste)
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 tbsp light mayo
1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the avocado, mayo and vinegar and mash with a fork until smooth. Add the eggs and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Baked Barbecue Potato Chips
1 medium potato, sliced very thinly
2 tbsp barbecue sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Spread the potato slices on a baking sheet.

Mix the barbecue sauce, water and salt in a small bowl until the salt dissolves completely. Brush on both sides of the potato slices.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, flipping over halfway through. When you pull the potatoes out they should be slightly crispy, but they will become crispier as they sit out of the oven. If they are not crispy after 2 minutes out of oven, bake for longer. Watch closely because the cooking time really depends on the size of your potato slices.

Serve egg salad as a sandwich, wrap or whatever you desire with potato chips on the side.

Oh and don't forget a pickle. We always have a pickle with this meal as well.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Let me introduce...

the newest member of my household:

Hello, sexy!!

This beautiful new KitchenAid Food Processor is making it's debut in my kitchen. I've been collecting credit card points for awhile and after my old food processor died in the process of making homemade almond butter (which was totally worth it... besides the fact that I was out of a food processor for a few months), I decided to splurge my points on this beauty. It has a 13 cup and 4 cup bowl plus a dough hook. It is waaay more suped up than my last one.

I can't wait to start processing. :)

Now I need a little help. What are you favorite uses for your food processor? What types of recipes would you like to see me try out? Please leave a comment below to help me best utilize this baby.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chinese Noodle Salad

I told you that I traveled to NC for a wedding this past weekend. I can’t help it, but every time that I fly I HAVE to purchase a new food magazine. I currently get Food Network Magazine and Everyday Food by Martha Stewart and will soon be getting Everyday with Rachael Ray (thanks, Living Social $7 deal!) delivered directly to my house. I used to get Cooking Light but for some reason I let my subscription run out. Fortunately, that meant I hadn’t read the June 2012 edition so when I was perusing the magazine selections at the airport, I just HAD to buy it. :) Don’t judge me. I flipped through the magazine reading the articles and the recipes marking the pages that I was interested in making one day.

When I got home on Sunday evening, I sat down to make my weekly meal plans and decided to plan something from the new magazine. I also took a look at the Meijer ad and saw that it was 10 for $10 (get the 11th free) week. Some of the 10 for $10 included cherry tomatoes, English cucumbers and green onions. In my fridge I had some sugar snap peas from the farmer’s market the week before. So, essentially everything was setting up perfectly for this Chinese Noodle Salad. Of course when I got to Meijer, I couldn’t find the Chinese-flat noodles that the recipe called for so I went for somen noodles which are thin Japanese wheat noodles. They worked great. Although, maybe I shoulda changed the name to Japanese Noodle Salad. Oh well.  

Now for those of you afraid of tofu, I would totally suggest trying this recipe. I used to be afraid like you. However, I find that any stir fry/saucy meal can really up the flavor of tofu, and it is certainly waaaay better than the first time I tried it from the salad bar in college (super wet and slimy with no taste whatsoever). 

Chinese Noodle Salad with Tangy Cucumbers (adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012)
4 oz package uncooked noodles (I used somen noodles, but could use udon or spaghetti or whatever you desire)
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 tsp peanut oil
1/2 cup cubed firm water-packed tofu (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup drained, sliced water chestnuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions 
1.5 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar 
1/2 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce 
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp chile paste with garlic
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Tangy cucumbers:
1/8 cup seasoned rice vinegar 
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber 

For the cucumbers, whisk together vinegar, sugar and CRP. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat. Chill until ready to eat.

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add peas during last 1 minute of cooking. Drain; rinse with cold water.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanut oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add tofu to pan and cook 5-10 minutes until browned, stirring frequently.

Combine noodle mixture, tofu, tomatoes, water chestnuts, and onions in a large bowl. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile paste, salt and sesame seeds in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add vinegar mixture to noodle mixture, tossing gently to coat.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Crunchiest Baked Chicken Nuggets of Your Life

Chicken McNuggets. Who didn’t love those growing up? You would get your happy meal, open up the spicy mustard sauce, dip in a nugget and bite into the greasy, yet somehow delicious, breaded chicken (?). Every now and then you would get one of those hard as rock pieces that looking back on it today was probably ground up chicken bone or something. But you loved it (or at least I did). Thank goodness, in 2003, McDonald’s switched to an all-white meat nugget.

Besides McDonald’s chicken nuggets, my mom used to buy the frozen nuggets and bake them for my sister and me when she and my dad were heading out for a date night. We’d eat our dinner, which usually consisted of the chicken nuggets, yogurt (grape and cherry that she would split between the two of us), and probably other things that I’m forgetting right now, at the kitchen table while our parents would proceed to close all of the curtains and shades in the downstairs of our house before they left. I know they were doing it so no one could see that we had a babysitter and they weren’t home, but looking back on it, it would have been a complete green light for anyone who wanted to come into our house and attack as the downstairs curtains were barely ever closed. Ha.

Anyway, now that I’m older, I ask myself (and you), why are chicken nuggets such a “kid’s food”? I mean, they are delicious. Us adults should not have to limit our chicken eating to tenders or full breasts or thighs or whatever we are supposed to grow into liking. Now, I’m not encouraging everyone to rush out to Mickey D’s right now and get a happy meal, but I’m proposing an alternative. Baked chicken nuggets! These chicken nuggets are great. I promise that kids from 1 to 91 (cue the Christmas music) will enjoy them. They are not fried in oil, but they still turn out super crispy (hence, the crunchiest baked chicken nuggets of your life). The key ingredient is the panko breadcrumbs; however, it is essential to bake the panko before you bread the nuggets. The first time I made them, I wasn’t exactly sure how much panko I would need for my individual serving so I just guesstimated. Of course, I ran out of the baked panko, so I proceeded to finish up a couple more nuggets with panko straight from the box—they were not nearly as crispy.

I have also included a recipe for a delish honey-mustard dipping sauce. Not quite the same as McDonald’s spicy mustard, but definitely tasty. Feel free to dip in whatever you prefer, be it ranch, ketchup, honey, etc.

Note: I suppose I will allow you to make them as chicken tenders. Just cut the chicken into strips instead of nuggets and you may need to increase the baking time. But I really think the nuggets are more fun. And if you have kiddos, they will love them. I promise! :)

Baked Chicken Nuggets (from Everyday Food Magazine)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp peanut oil (or other vegetable oil)
1/2 cup flour (any kind, I used wheat)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Spread panko on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 6 minutes. Transfer to a shallow dish and add parmesan and salt. Drizzle with the oil and stir to combine.

Place flour and egg in separate shallow dishes.

Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray.

In batches, coat the chicken in flour, shaking off the excess, dip in egg and then coat with panko, pressing to adhere. Place on wire rack.

Bake until the chicken in cooked through, 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

While baking, mix the mustard, mayo and honey in a small bowl.

Dip nuggets in sauce and eat!

Serves 4.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Two for One Kale Pesto

HI!! Sorry I’ve been a little MIA from the blog for the past few days. I was off to the beach to watch some of my friends get hitched. I got to spend an extended weekend with some friends from grad school that I haven't seen for a while. We had a great time on the beach, ate some yummy food, drank some beers and enjoyed our time together. Of course, as always, when I get back from a vacation, I feel like I need another vacation to just catch up on sleep. Anyone else feel that way after trips?

But I’m back in town and back to the grind in lab and in the kitchen. 

I’ve been wanting to post this recipe (actually, multiple recipes) for a little while. I was debating calling the post “One for Two Kale Pesto” but then I thought you would think I was gypping you out of a recipe so I went with the more traditional “Two for One.” Technically, I could have called it “A Pesto for All Occasions”.

Okay, I’m rambling…

So I need to give a few stories/lessons before I jump into the cooking:

1. I DO NOT HAVE A GREEN THUMB! I continue to try (this year I’m hoping for some herbs and a variety of peppers to survive my mini apartment garden), but I just am not the best. You would think I would be better because when I was younger I convinced my parents on convert a third of our sandbox in the backyard into a garden so I could grow some vegetables. Okay, maybe that was the first sign- we only kept the garden for one summer. Anyway, I have killed almost every basil plant I’ve tried to keep alive (this year, so far so good). While a number of friends always seem to be swimming in basil and making pesto left and right, my little green leaves tend to dry up and die. I think I’ll blame it on my lack of sun in my apartment(s) over the years. That sounds like a good excuse.

2. When we were doing the CSA box last summer, we kept getting kale. I didn’t really know what to do with this green (we didn’t really eat hearty greens growing up) so I went searching for some new recipes. In one of my “Everyday with Rachael Ray” magazines, I found this great pesto recipe using kale in place of the pesto.

3. I have come to learn that you can use many different greens (basil, kale, spinach, etc.) with a variety of toasted nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc.) to make a fresh and great pesto.

4. Pesto is not only great on pasta but as a base for pizza, pies or as a dip for veggies. Be creative and think outside the box (hmm… I think this may be my cooking mantra).

Here I’m sharing with you the recipe for the pesto and two different meals I’ve used it in- pasta and calzone. I also make the pesto and freeze it in smaller portions to use whenever I want.

Kale and Walnut Pesto (adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray)
1/2 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling**
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large pot of salted water, cook the kale until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze kale to remove the excess water.

In a food processor, combine kale, walnuts, garlic and parmesan until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper. With the machine running, add the olive oil.
Use pesto immediately or freeze for later.

**It is important here to use good quality parmesan cheese. Get the stuff from the refrigerated section that is strongly flavored.

Pesto Pasta with Kielbasa
1/3 cup Kale and Walnut Pesto (see above)
½ lb pasta (any kind will work, I used rotini)
½ kielbasa sausage, cut into ¼ inch pieces
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Cook pasta according to package. Drain, reserving approximately ¼ cup cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, add the kielbasa to a skillet and cook over medium heat until browned, flipping the pieces, approximately 7-8 minutes.

Mix the pasta, kielbasa and pesto in a bowl. Add the reserved cooking water and toss to coat everything completely. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese.

Serves 2.

Pesto and Vegetable Calzones
Individual size pizza crust (homemade, or 1/3 to ½ of refrigerated tube)
1/4 cup Kale and Walnut Pesto (see above)
1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small tomato, sliced thinly
¼ mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cornmeal, for dusting

Preheat oven to 500 F. Preheat a baking stone (or upside down baking sheet) in the oven as well.

Cook the mushrooms in a skillet over medium heat until soft, approximately 5 minutes.

Sprinkle a work surface with cornmeal and roll out the pizza crust. Spread the pesto over half of the crust and cover with mushroom, tomato and mozzarella cheese. Fold other half of crust over and seal.

Transfer to the heated baking stone and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Serves 1.