Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Assembly Instructions – Fajitas

November 10, 2014


If I said something was quick and easy before… this is far beyond even those descriptors. Overview: buy some stuff at Trader Joe’s, do a little slicing, a little searing, and then assemble a really tasty meal. Pack away the leftovers and you’ll have a really tasty lunch. Your time commitment is minimal.

Beef Fajitas for Four:

Trader Joe’s Carne Asada package, which is already sliced, just needs to be cut into manageable pieces

3-4 bell peppers, mixed colors, cut into strips

1 large yellow onion, sliced thick or thin

sour cream

chopped jalapeno (optional)

tortillas – the mixed corn/wheat ones are my favorite so far

Preheat a cast iron pan on the stove. Meanwhile, slice up your peppers and onions. Add a little bit of oil to the pan, then the onion and bell pepper (and jalapeño). Cook until soft and a little charred, then set aside to keep warm. In the same pan, add your carne asada pieces. Don’t crowd the pan – you may have to do two batches. I cook the meat until browned on the outside, red on the inside, so you may want to cook it a little longer. While the meat cooks, I like to warm up my tortillas in a separate frying pan on low heat. Once the meat is cooked to your liking, pile a little bit of everything with some sour cream into a tortilla and enjoy!

For my lunch the next day, I packed Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream and popped tortilla halves into the toaster to warm them up. It was the kind of lunch that had me planning fajitas once a week for a while. By the way, the Trader Joe’s is within walking distance of my house, which is why every ingredient in this quickie meal can be purchased there.


Quick mushroom cream sauce

October 23, 2014


This is a fast weeknight dish I threw together (apparently in the dark). It’s based on another Smitten Kitchen recipe, but where she puts the resulting buttery, mushroomy goodness on perfect little toasts, I put it on some farmers’ market ravioli.

I can never quite find white bread perfect enough for tiny mushroom-topped toasts, do you have that problem? The slices would have to be crunchy AND soft, rich but not overpowering, and at least half an inch tall. I prefer whole wheat toast with my sardines. Maybe I’ll talk about sardines soon, too. ;)

    Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 pound brown (Cremini) mushrooms or whatever mix you like
2 tablespoons butter
1 tender white portion of leek, 2 small shallots or 1/2 an onion (leeks are my favorite), sliced thin
1/2 cup white wine or sherry
2 glugs cream or half and half
salt to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped chives, according to taste
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to taste

Clean and dice your mushrooms. Melt butter on medium-high heat – when foamy, add the mushrooms, salting liberally. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release some of their moisture. If using onion, add it to the pan sooner. If using shallot or leek, reduce heat to medium and cook until barely translucent.

Next, pour in the wine and let simmer, covered, for around 3 minutes. At this point, evaluate your sauce. Is it nicely reduced or too liquidy? If it needs to reduce more, remove the lid until you like the looks of it. Reduce heat to low to avoid curdling, then add your glugs of cream, stirring well to get the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan. Once your desired thickness is achieved, take the mixture off the heat and add the chives and parsley.

Toss with pasta and serve!

Carrot Mash

October 15, 2014


This is another quick tip more than a real recipe. I was in the mood for mashed sweet potato the other day, but only had carrots in the pantry. I also wanted to sneak a little more protein into my lunch.
Step one:
Cook your carrots. I used 6 medium carrots and boiled them on the suggestion of Martha Stewart.
Step two:
Add the cooked carrots to the food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese ~ 14 grams of protein. Pulse until smooth.
Step three:
Add seasoning. This could be roasted garlic, butter and salt, or even sugar and cinnamon if you like that sort of thing with your sweet potatoes (not for me – I like to keep that stuff savory.)
Optional fourth step:
Depending on the whey content of your cottage cheese and the water content of your carrots, you might prefer to firm the mashed carrots by baking them in a casserole dish at 350 degrees until toasty on top.

I packed these up with a bed of spinach which wilted nicely when I heated my lunch. It wasn’t really like sweet potato, but it was a tasty lunch dish on the lighter side. Next time I’ll experiment by adding ginger!

Browned butter panko… Goes on everything

October 8, 2014


This is sort of a recipe, sort of a tip for packing lunch. Last year, I fell in love with crunchy Bosc pears on bitter salads. This lunch box has a baby kale, pickled radish, and sliced pear salad, quinoa pilaf, and kiwi slices. When I made my pear + greens salad over and over again, I found it came out best when I added a salty/crunchy element. This time I had some leftover browned butter panko – so good. You can press these browned butter bread crumbs onto cauliflower, broccoli, meat… or make a little fried goat cheese for a salad. Here’s how you do it:

Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into slices. Add to a pan over medium high heat and allow to melt, but stand by with a spatula or scraper. When the butter starts to foam up, stir it. The little bits of proteins and sugars in the butter sink to the bottom and stirring will help you brown them evenly. When the butter has reached a level of browned-ness you like, add a cup of panko or breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or herb of preference) and salt to taste, stirring constantly.

Allow the panko/bread crumbs to soak up the butter, then watch and stir as they start to brown. When they are golden and toasty, take them off the heat quickly and throw them on top of whatever is nearby!

To make fried goat cheese, slice your chevre about 1/4 inch thick. I then placed the slices in the freezer to firm them up, but I still got a messy result (hence no photo). Dredge them in flour, then beaten egg, then press it into your finished browned butter crumbs. Because the crumbs are already browned, just barely fry the goat cheese in a little oil. I almost regretted making the first one because they were frequently requested after that…

French Toast for Friday

September 12, 2014


The weekend and leisurely breakfasts approach! I think it’s about time for some French toast. When I buy a baguette or boule of sourdough, I like to make breakfast with the leftover or slightly stale portion I always seem to have.* This recipe will use up about half a loaf, sliced 1/2 inch – 1 inch thick according to your preference.

In a bowl, beat an egg. Add 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture until it has all been absorbed.

Next, melt a pat of butter in a frying pan over medium heat and sprinkle both sides of the French toast slices with additional sugar. When the butter is frothy, add the bread slices and cook until golden brown. Don’t let the pan get too hot or the middle of the toasts won’t have time to cook before the surfaces burn.


I drizzled this batch with a little wildflower honey, but I prefer French toast without syrup if I can have a lot of fresh fruit.

*Side note: slightly stale bread never gets thrown out around here. If it isn’t destined for French toast, I throw it into the food processor and pulse until I have homemade bread crumbs. They seem to keep pretty well in a ziploc in the freezer. Occasionally, I will cube the leftover bread and make croutons, which are great for chopped salads panzanella-style. More on that later, I hope!

Pork Chops Sous Vide

September 10, 2014

Is pork a mainstay protein for you? It’s not a meat I think to pick up. A and I tried making pork chops for the first time recently. Since they have a bad reputation for being dry, we used the sous vide technique. (We received a Sous Vide Supreme as a gift and have been using it for everything.)

To sum it up, I was surprised and pleased with the result! I think pork will be joining our menu a little more often…


The flavor here is all chop. We added no seasoning other than salt and pepper, vacuum sealed it, tossed it into a 57 degree C (135F) water oven, and left it for a couple of hours while we ran around.

When we were nearly ready to eat, I tossed some kale sprouts (new Trader Joe’s item) with olive oil and stuck them in the broiler until they started to brown, then seared the chops in a bit of butter heated until just before it started to smoke. A couple of minutes on each side is all you need – which is good because any longer would set off the smoke alarm!


For sides:
To the kale/brussels sprouts that are nicely toasty, add some caramelized onions that you have on hand in the freezer (you do, don’t you? If not, buy some onions and follow these directions so your weeknight vegetable or lunchtime sandwich can have a touch of sweet/savory whenever you’d like.) Another classic side for pork is “dirty” corn, which is creamed corn that you fry a bit in the browned butter right after you remove your pork chop from it. It is gooooooood, trust me.

Mushroom chicken and browned-butter-thyme squash

September 7, 2014

Hey, who says you can’t eat well away from home?

My advice? Get an apartment via AirBnB (ymmv) instead of a hotel, and when you’re there, make Browned Butter Butternut Squash, and pair it with chicken on wild rice and sauteed mushrooms.

To sauté mushrooms, I like to slice them fairly thickly. Make sure your pan is pretty hot, whether you’re using butter or oil. (I like to use olive oil with chicken, butter if I’m putting them on steak.) The hardest part is to avoid stirring too much. I find that they don’t brown very easily if they’re moved too frequently. Once they’re brown to your liking, deglaze the pan with white wine, stir in some chopped parsley maybe, and enjoy!

Quick bites

April 18, 2012

Ginger Fried Rice from Smitten Kitchen


Lunch today! I followed the recipe exactly and had this done in 30 minutes before my study sesh. ;)


Green Smoothie Recipe

April 13, 2012

Okay folks, you may have heard about the green smoothie craze. I don’t know who started it, but it’s popular among raw food vegans, which may give omnivores pause. Don’t worry! This thing actually tastes good and it sure helps to clean out the fridge.

Fresh Ginger Green

This sweet baby has a little ginger kick to it!

Ginger Green Smoothie:

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup orange juice

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled

1/2 cup plain or fruity frozen yogurt

Combine and blend until smooth and frothy. For more froth (and cold) add ice.

Do you have some wilty fruit in the fridge? Toss that in. Red berries will change the color of the drink, but it’ll still taste good. This ratio of baby spinach to other stuff does not taste like spinach at all to me, and I pair it with a tall cup of green tea for an afternoon pick me up.

If that’s not enough greens for you, try this next one:

Banana Green Smoothie (also good for beginners!)

1 medium banana

2 cups spinach

1/2 cup greek nonfat yogurt

1/2 berries (good frozen! Chills the drink and they’re ripe out of season.)

Blend until thick and smooth.

This one is good for using up really ripe bananas; it usually means you won’t have to add sweetener. I have this one instead of a meal since it tends to be thicker.

Experiment with your own! People report using all kinds of greens (kale, chard, collard, “adult” spinach) but I prefer to eat those for dinner since they have more tooth than baby spinach. Also, the one time I used regular spinach in a smoothie even banana couldn’t cover the taste.


That’s it for now! So many life changes, you don’t even know. I will be trying to get back into blogging since I have lots of homework to procrastinate on. I expect to get you recipes, garden pictures, perhaps a few dog photos and maybe some diy. Oh, nail polish? If I pick up a new one. Not only have I moved far away from my usual convenient nail polish retailers, I have just been loving to wear the collection I have!  I know, crazy.  Good night and good luck!