Thursday, February 28, 2013

Greek Salad

Today was a "I put my boot on the wrong foot" day. Similar to a "I used conditioner before shampoo" day. Or a "I made my lunch but left it sitting on the kitchen counter" day. Or a "I burned my tongue on my morning coffee" day.

You know those days that I'm talking about. When you probably should have stayed in bed because something, or multiple somethings, just did not go right. Today, I literally pulled on one of my boots to realize it was on the wrong foot. To give myself a little credit, these boots don't have a zipper or laces or anything, they are just slipons so at first glance both feet look similar. Although I've had them for over a year and this was the first mishap. Ok, go ahead and laugh at my stupidity but only if you haven't done one of the aforementioned or something as equally dumb. Any stories you'd like to tell to make me feel better? Comment below!

What wasn't a dumb thing was this Greek salad-- refreshing, delicious and healthy. Guaranteed to take your "I knocked over a full glass of juice" day from dreary to bright.

Greek Salad (adapted from Cooking Light's The Complete Quick Cook)
For dressing:
1 anchovy fillet
2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp worcesteshire sauce
1 tsp dried oregano (or 4 tsp fresh oregano)
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped (or 1/4 tsp dried dill)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, pressed

For salad (one serving):
2 cups torn lettuce (romaine, green leaf or red leaf)
1 small roma tomato, chopped
1 1/8-inch red onion slice, rings separated and chopped into quarters
2 tbsp pitted olives
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
2 canned artichoke hearts, quartered
1/2 cup chopped cucumber

Mash the anchovy fillet in a small bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until completely combined. Store in refrigerator. Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

To assemble the salad, combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle in about 2 tbsp dressing and toss to mix completely.

Serves 1.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Strawberry Banana Mini Muffins

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Since I've spent the night completely unplugged from the world, I always check my email and the weather. If I'm feeling extra lazy, like I was this Saturday, I check Facebook and Pinterest while still cuddled under the covers in bed. And this week I learned that February 23 is National Banana Bread Day. Note: I'm pretty certain that there is a food holiday or month or something that we could celebrate everyday. But regardless, I had a few bananas that were on their last legs and I figured I might as well take part in banana bread day. I checked my fridge and found some strawberries that were also calling out to me, so I searched for a strawberry banana bread recipe. To make things quicker I went for a muffin AND I made them mini so I can pop them in my mouth on my way out the door on a workday morning.

What's great about this recipe is the lack of fat. There is a significant amount of sugar so they aren't exactly health muffins but they are better than what you would pick up at the coffee shop. Speaking of which, they go great with a cup or two of freshly brewed coffee.

Strawberry Banana Mini Muffins (adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction)
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 medium banana, mashed

1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg white, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 medium banana, thinly sliced
1 cup diced strawberries


Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a mini muffin tray with cooking spray.

Mix together the flour, sugars, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the mashed banana, applesauce, egg white and vanilla and stir until combined but do not overmix. Fold in the banana slices and strawberries. Scoop the batter into the mini muffin tray, filling almost to the top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Makes 20-24 mini muffins.

Store in an airtight container.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dragon Noodles

Do you like a dinner from the fridge to the table in about 10 minutes?

Do you like the burn of sriracha sauce to stay in your mouth for the rest of the night?

If you answered yes to both of the above questions, then do I have the perfect recipe for you. These are certainly dragon noodles because they will make you breathe fire. And you can whip them up in less time than it will take you to order your favorite Asian takeout.

You can obviously cut back on a little bit of the heat by eliminating some of the sriracha sauce, but if you don't like things spicy, you may want to avoid this one altogether. If you do love the spicy, you should try them out :)

Dragon Noodles (adapted from Budget Bytes)
4 oz somen noodles (or other noodle of choice)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2-1 tbsp sriracha sauce (depending on your spice level)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 egg
sliced green onion, for garnish

Cook the noodles according to the package and drain.

Mix together the brown sugar, soy sauce and sriracha.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the CRP and cook until fragrant about 30 sec. Crack the egg into the pan and beat with your spatula to scramble the white and yolk (alternatively, whisk the egg in a small bowl before adding to the pan). Cook until the egg is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the drained noodles and sauce to the pan and toss to coat the noodles. Heat on low for about 1 minute until thickened.

Serve hot topped with the green onions.

Serves 2.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beef and Black Bean Chili (Slow Cooker)

Seriously busy time in my life right now, y'all! Hence the lack of posts. Luckily, I've been able to make some yummy food that I cannot wait to share with you; unfortunately, I haven't had time to type up the recipes, come up with witty stories, and post them.

So here's a post-- very bare bones in terms of an introduction but yummy food nonetheless. This is an alternative to your "normal" chili that I would certainly suggest if you are a black bean lover. The beans and meat soak up a lot of the liquid so be prepared for a thick chili. Perfect for a cold windy day... especially since it will be cooking all day in the crockpot!

Beef and Black Bean Chili (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1/3 lb top loin steak, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (or beef stew meat would work as well)
1 1/2 cups tomato juice (low or no sodium)
2 cups water
1 cup dried black beans, rinsed
1/2 large red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
sour cream, for serving

Combine the steak, tomato juice, water, black beans, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in your slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-9 hours (or high for 5-6 hours). Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serve garnished with sour cream.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

    L is for the way you look at me
    O is for the only one I see
    V is very very extraordinary
    E is even more than anyone that you adore

Did you have singing valentines (aka members of the choir) when you were in high school? They sang songs like "Wind beneath my wings" and other classic things. I wonder if high school choirs still do this and if they sing songs by Taylor Swift, One Direction and Rihanna.

Even better were those giant lip suckers that came in just about every flavor and turned your tongue and lips strange colors that you could send to your friends and crushes. I think it was only 50 cents to send one. Probably these days with inflation and all, they would cost at least $2.00. Would kids do that anyone? Or would they just text lovu lomy etc. Hmm... now I want a giant lip sucker.

Now, if you don't want to, or don't have the opportunity to, send a singing valentine or lip sucker, you could make your loved ones heart shaped cookies! May I suggest oatmeal raisin? That's my valentine's favorite! To tell you the truth, I wasn't really sure if my quest of making a drop cookie into a heart would work. It is very easy to cut out hearts using a cookie cutter from rolled dough, but I was prepared to fail on the oatmeal raisin. I learned a few things-- 1. You can make hearts! 2. You should definitely roll them into deep v (like a deep enough v that if it was a sweater you better be wearing a cami under it) 3. They will spread a lot during the baking process so it doesn't matter how sharp your edges are, your hearts will be rounded.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
3/4 unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed for about 30 seconds. Add the sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in the flour. Stir in the oats and raisins.

To make heart shaped cookies-- roll about 1-2 rounded tsp of dough into a rod, fold over into a deep v and place on a cookie sheet. Makes about 3 dozen heart shaped cookies.

To make round cookies-- roll about 1 rounded tsp of dough into a ball and place on cookie sheet. Makes 4-5 dozen round cookies.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until bottoms are light brown. Cool on the cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Trashy Portobello Mushroom Burger

You win some and you lose some.

That happens in the lab when you are trying to synthesize molecules or express plasmids or purify proteins. Sometimes things work like you plan, sometimes they don't.

Same thing happens when you are in the kitchen... especially when you are dreaming up a recipe yourself. Last week I made the grilled veggies and hummus wrap using portobello mushrooms. Since I had purchased a pack of 5 mushrooms, I had a few to play around with. I planned out two dishes -- stuffed portobellos and portobello burgers.

I was thinking I would saute up some sweet potato and peppers, throw in a little seasoning and then stuff that into my mushrooms. But then I ran into a problem, the sweet potato in my pantry had gone bad :( So I searched around my kitchen and found some frozen veggies, frozen northern beans and homemade pasta sauce. I figured I could make up a little concoction of those things, stuff it into the mushrooms and top with a little cheese as a play on a pasta-less pasta primavera. I made that last night but I really wasn't sold; it was okay but not blog-worthy.

Mushroom 1. Julie 0.

The second planned dish (which actually happened before the first planned one) was the portobello burgers. I did a twist on a barbecue bacon burger topping them with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and, of course, BACON. I'm calling it a trashy burger because here I am taking a traditionally meatless meal and trashing it up with bacon. You don't have to do it, but I would recommend it. This one is certainly a win.

If you are keeping score, that's Mushroom 1. Julie 1. It's a draw. We will have a rematch Mr. Portobello, you can count on it.

Trashy Portobello Mushroom Burger
2 portobello mushrooms, stems twisted out
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, separated
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
3 tbsp barbecue sauce (your favorite kind)
2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
3 pieces of bacon, cooked to your desired likeness, each cut in half, optional
2 hamburger buns

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Drizzle 1 tsp of oil on the top of each and rub in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cap up on a baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes, flipping over halfway throug, until the mushrooms are cooked. Turn on broiler.

Meanwhile, heat the other 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onion slices and stir to coat. Decrease the heat to medium and cook the onions until caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes. 

Once the mushrooms are cooked, slather 1 tbsp of barbecue sauce on top of each. Top with cheese slices. Broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted completely.

Assemble the burger by spreading another 1/2 tbsp barbecue sauce on the bottom bun, topping with 3 half slices of bacon, layering the mushroom and half the caramelized onions and then the top bun.

Grab yourself a napkin because it is guaranteed to be messy!

Serves 2.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Baked Potato Pizza

You know how it isn't until you move away from a place that you appreciate some of the little things?

Well, that is not the story regarding this pizza. From the first time I tried the loaded baked potato pizza at Satisfaction's in Durham, I knew they had created something special. I mean, who thinks of putting potatoes on a pizza? Top it with cheddar cheese and bacon and you've got a great idea. Drizzle it with their "famous sat sauce" and it is DIVINE. Of course reproducing this at home was a must now that I no longer frequent Satis for Duke games and big beer Thursdays. There were a few key points for success with this dish. First, I needed to mimic the "famous sat sauce"; we always joked that it was just watered down ranch dressing and although that may be the case, watered down Kraft was just not cutting it. So I added some sour cream, milk, garlic, olive oil, and chives to the ranch and found what I was looking for. The second important part is to premix your cooked potato with some of the sauce. Let the flavors meld for a little bit and they will permeate the potato and enhance the overall flavor. Of course, you're going to want to drizzle the pizza with a lot more of the sauce and top it will bacon and cheddar cheese. I added some mozzarella to the mix as well and a little bit of red onion for pop. I think I paid appropriate homage to Satis.

For those of you who have moved away from Durham, I give you back something you are probably missing. For those of you who have never been to Durham, prepare to have your life revolutionized. You are welcome!

Baked Potato Pizza (inspired by Satisfaction's)
Ingredients (for individual size):
1/5 pizza dough, thawed (or 1/3-1/2 store bought pizza dough)
1 small red potato
2 pieces bacon, cooked crisp and chopped or crumbled
1 tbsp sliced red onion
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (either yellow or white)
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 tbsp ranch dressing
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried chives (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped chives)

Place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 500 F. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes.

Whisk together the sour cream, ranch dressing, milk and olive oil. Stir in the garlic powder and chives. Set aside.

Poke the potato a few times with a fork and place in a microwave safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes until cooked through. Let cool slightly and then peel and chop into bite sized pieces. Toss the chopped potato with approximately 2 tbsp of the ranch mixture. Let sit until you are ready to assemble the pizza.

Pull and/or roll out the pizza dough until it is a circle of about 8-10 inch diameter. Spread the potato mixture on the dough. Drizzle with the remaining ranch sauce. Top with red onion, cheeses and bacon crumbles. Transfer to the heated baking stone or sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is hot and the crust is cooked through. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

Serves 1.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Grilled Balsamic Veggies and Hummus Wrap

The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl last night. Holla!

And now here I sit wishing I had a great crab-based recipe to share with you in their honor. Unfortunately I have a number of options on that bucket list that have just not been accomplished. Here's my short term goal-- put a crab recipe on the schedule in the next few weeks, perfect it, and share it with you (probably won't happen this week because menu planning was this weekend). I'm counting on all of you to hold me to it!

Instead of Baltimore-inspired food, I'm sharing with you today a recipe to use of some of your leftover hummus from your Super Bowl party... if you have any left. If you don't, just make up another batch. Or purchase a tub from the grocery store. I don't know--- just make this happen. It is so quick and easy and perfect for lunch or dinner. If you aren't a big portobello mushroom fan, you could substitute some other vegetable like zucchini or eggplant.

You could skip the last step of shallow frying in the pan if you wanted to avoid extra oil or if you wanted it to be a cold sandwich, but I think the crunch of the browned wrap really makes it great. Plus your hummus is hot and creamy.

Grilled Balsamic Veggies and Hummus Wrap
Ingredients (for one wrap):
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
1/2 cup sliced peppers (mini sweet or bell work well)
1 slice red onion, cut in half and pulled apart
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp hummus (homemade or storebought, flavor of choice)
10 inch tortilla or wrap (I used a 100 calorie whole wheat wrap)

Place the sliced mushrooms, peppers and onions in a bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat completely. Marinate in fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat George Foreman Grill or grill pan. Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes until hot through.

Warm the wrap in the microwave for 30 seconds to make it pliable. Spread the hummus on the wrap. Top with the grilled vegetables. Fold in sides and roll up.

Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat in a pan. Place the wrap seam side down in the hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until browned. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until browned.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Toffee Studded Brownies

Six years ago

That's how long Scott and I have been together. Unfortunately we cannot spend our anniversary together this year. But Duke did play an amazing basketball game; I'm sure in honor of us since they brought the two of us together so many years ago.
Last weekend

Even though we aren't together to celebrate, I made a dessert I knew he would love: a toffee-studded brownies for my stud.

Sorry, dude, that you can't be here to eat it with me. But I had an extra piece just for you :)

Toffee Studded Brownies (adapted from the Heath Toffee Bits bag)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces milk chocolate toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat an 8X8 inch baking pan with cooking spray

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix to combine. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sugar until completely combined. Add one egg and beat in completely. Add in the second egg and beat in completely again. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and stir until well blended.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until it begins to pull away from the edges. Remove from the oven and top with the toffee bits. Cover tightly with foil and let cool completely. Cut into squares.

Makes about 16 squares.