Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No Lettuce Greek Salad

I think I've discovered the root of my unwillingness to eat lots of salad.  I don't really like lettuce.  It's just...blah.  Because I eat a ton of kale salad, and Lord knows I ate a ton of this Greek Salad.  Lettuce gets slimy and weird quickly, which is a total turn off.  However, you don't have to have lettuce to have salad, thank goodness.

I added in a little quinoa, since I had some leftover and wasn't quite sure what else to do with it.  Great idea, because it added a bit of extra texture and it has a ton of protein in it, so it makes the salad more filling.  When I make it again, I'll definitely use more quiona, but I didn't want to cook more just for this.

I made a simple Greek dressing to go on top, but any kind of vinaigrette would be delicious as well.  I wouldn't do a creamy dressing, just because I think that it would take away from the feta.  Remember guys, feta makes it betta.

No Lettuce Greek Salad:

1 Medium Cucumber
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
4-5 Ounces Feta (like I'd measure cheese...)
1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives
1/2 Cup Quinoa
1/4 of a Red Onion
Salad Dressing to Taste

I don't have process pictures, because this isn't exactly rocket science.  Basically, you chop things and put them in a bowl.

I scooped out the seeds from the cucumber, because I think they get mushy, especially if you have leftovers. Then I chopped up the onion pretty finely - you don't want to have giant pieces.  I didn't cut the tomatoes or the olives, but you can if you want.  I'm just too lazy.

Then, pour some dressing over the whole thing and toss.  Because of the lack of delicate ingredients, you can make a giant bowl and eat it for days.  Which is exactly what I did.

Question of the Day: 
What is your favorite kind of alternative salad? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Time I Made Bread

Yep!  It's true, I made bread.  And it was totally edible.  Actually, it was DELICIOUS and I loved it.

I did a no knead bread, because I think that might be where I go wrong a lot of the time.  So, I found a recipe (on Pinterest, obviously) and went to town.  Now that I have my beautiful Dutch Oven, I have a pan that can handle the heat, which is very important.  If you don't have a Dutch Oven, you could use whatever pot you have, just make sure it can handle being heated to 450.

For my first time, I figured I'd stay simple and just do a basic white loaf.  However, you can definitely play around with different add ins and what have you.  Some caramelized onions would be delicious, or maybe some cheese.  Or both.  Or olives....maybe I should go start on that second loaf.

No-Knead Bread - I Heart Eating (best blog name EVER btw...)

3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Yeast
1 1/2 Cup Lukewarm Water

Mix together flour, salt, and yeast.

Add water and mix, until it becomes incorporated.

Cover and set aside for 12-18 hours.  I actually ended up with more like 20, but it was fine.  It's just rising because science, but I think that next time I would make it overnight, so that I could bake in the morning.

See, it grows.  SO COOL!  Also, I moved the bowl to the other side of the kitchen, by the radiator, so it would be a little warmer.  I think everything grows better in the warmth.

When you're ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 450.  After it's heated, put the pot in the oven and heat for 30 minutes.

HEAVILY flour your work space, then dump the dough out and shape.  Once it's shaped, place into a greased bowl for the remainder of the 30 minutes.

Drop the dough into the heated pot (be careful, burns are painful) and cover.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and bake uncovered for 10 more minutes.

Remove and place on a cooling rack to cool for as long as you can stand.  Then, dig in!

This bread is basically perfect, it has a soft interior and a crispy exterior.  I used this mostly for egg sandwiches, but I had a few slices of toast with toppings as well.  This isn't a fancy type of bread, so it's basically good for whatever.

Many people are super intimidated by making bread, but this method is really simple, you should give it a try. It's much cheaper, and infinitely more delicious, than what you'd get at the store.  And it's not full of all kinds of things that I can't pronounce, which is a lovely bonus.  It will mold more quickly than a grocery store loaf, but I wouldn't worry, it's not going to last that long.

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite kind of bread? 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

After all the Christmas baking and eating, I'm definitely ready for something a little lighter.  I mean, let's be honest here, eating a salad every once in a while really isn't going to kill me.  In fact, I've heard that it's actually helpful.  Who knew?

As you may have figured out, I'm a little bit of a Pinterest addict.  It's where I get most of my good ideas for many things, not just food.  I've even tried out a few cleaning tips I found on there.  Still hate to clean, but that's unsurprising.  So, as I was browsing Pinterest the other day, I saw two salads that looked good; this shredded kale and Brussels sprouts one and this massaged kale Caesar.  I had kale and Brussels sprouts, so I figured I'd combine them and see what happened.

Deliciousness, deliciousness happened.  The kale and sprouts work well together, and make it feel hardier, like more of a winter salad.  And the Caesar dressing is amazing.  This is much more of a traditional Caesar dressing, because it uses anchovies.  I know that this is controversial, but I promise this dressing does not taste like fish.  Give it a try, it'll be ok.  There is also lots of garlic, so maybe not good for a first date?  Or maybe it is, I guess that depends on the date and what you're hoping will happen.  I'm not here to judge.

Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

First, prepare the kale and sprouts.  To prepare the kale, pull it off the stem; I use this method.  You can also buy bags of pre-washed and chopped, but you need to dig through to make sure all the stems are gone.  I used about three stems.

Then, give it a rough chop.  You're going to tear it up more when you massage it, so don't worry about it being uniform or particularly small.  Then, put it in a bowl and pour a little salt over it.  I never measure this, but I'd say maybe 2 teaspoons and start massaging.  The salt breaks down the kale, so you'll see it get smaller and turn bright green, like it does when you cook it.  As your massaging, continue to tear it apart, so that you don't have giant pieces.  I use this method a TON to make kale salad, it is delicious.

After you're done with the kale, prep the sprouts; I used about half a bag.  You can buy shredded Brussels sprouts already in the bag at Trader Joe's, which is SO what I'm doing next time, because this was a pain in the booty.  To shred them yourself, just chop off the bottom, half them, then slice as thinly as you can.  Break them up as you put them into the bowl.  Or seriously, just go to the store and buy them already done, this is completely not worth it.

Next up, the dressing.  For this, you will need:

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced or Pressed
3-4 Anchovy Fillets
2 1/2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 Ounce Parmesan Cheese

Mash the anchovy in the bottom of a bowl.  Mine didn't get super mushed, but it turned out ok, you just want to break it up a little bit so that it can mix well with the other ingredients.

Then, add the other ingredients and whisk it until smooth.  Taste and see how you like it, adding what you think it needs.  Wait until you've tried it to add any salt, because the anchovies are super salty, as well as the kale.  I didn't think it needed any extra salt.

Pour over the veg and mix to coat.

I loved this salad, there was enough for two giant servings, but since it's all vegetables, servings sizes don't matter.  I had it as my meal, but it would also be great as a side to some chicken or pasta.  Give the anchovies a chance, you won't be sorry!

Question of the Day:

What "weird" food do you love?  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


We're gettin fancy up in here.  And by fancy, I mean I made something with a Greek name and phyllo, because that's my definition of fancy.  Yours can (should?) be different.  I went to a party a while back, and wanted to make something nicer for it, because the people who hosted it are nice.  And into food, so I figured they'd be on board.  Then, I found out that it's one of their favorite foods ever, which was a delightful surprise.

In order to fit my extremely high standards of fancy, this requires using phyllo dough.  I promise, this isn't as hard as you think it is.  We managed the baklava, right?  And it was totally do able.  I had an easier time with this, and I'm not sure why.  Could be because it's cold outside (it's also cold inside), so the sheets didn't stick together as much.  Or, could be because I had done it before, so I was less nervous.  Either way, phyllo dough is your friend.  Your delicious, flaky, buttery friend.  And aren't those the best kind?

Also, there is a lot of spinach in this, so it's basically a health food.  I made mine in my cast iron skillet, because I thought it would look prettier (it did), but you can use whatever kind of pan you want.  Or, if you're feeling really fancy, do little baby ones in a muffin tin.  You will probably never see me do that because it seems like it takes a long time, and my time is very valuable.  There are unwatched episodes of Frasier on my Netflix.  Priorities, I have them.

Spanakopita - from About a Mom

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, Chopped
1 Bunch Green Onions, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Pounds Spinach, Rinsed, Chopped, and Squeezed
1/2 Cup Parsley, Chopped
2 Eggs, Lightly Beaten
1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese
1 Cup Feta Cheese, Crumbled
8 Sheets Phyllo Dough
1/4 Cup Olive Oil (for phyllo brushing)
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375 and lightly brush a pan with olive oil.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add onions, green onions, and garlic.  Sautee until softened and lightly browned.  Add in spinach and parsley and continue to cook until the spinach is wilted.  I used frozen spinach that I had then de-frosted using the very technical method of running it under hot water for a while, so I didn't really need to wilt it.  So, I just cooked it for a couple of minutes, so that it got warmed through.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit.

While the spinach mixture is cooling, mix together the cheeses and eggs in a large bowl.  Add the spinach mixture, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine.

Now, onto the phyllo.  Layer one sheet in the pan, then brush with olive oil.  Repeat so that you have four layers.  Since I used a round pan, I crossed them so that all the sides were covered.

Gently fill with the spinach cheese mixture.  Remember, phyllo is delicate, so be careful that you don't tear it while dumping your filling in.  Gentle hands, please.  Thank you, that was so nice (nanny mode ACTIVATED)!

Fold the overlap into the middle of the pan.  Then, do four more layers of phyllo on top.  Tuck the overlap into the sides, so that it's not just hanging out and brush the top with olive oil.  It's a fancy dish, so you want it to look fancy.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  Slice into wedges and enjoy.

See, that wasn't so hard, right?  You've totally got this.  Go forth and impress everyone you know.

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite fancy food? 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Healthier Chili Cheese Fries

I don't know about you guys, but the cold makes me crave mega junk food.  To be fair, I also eat like total crap in the summer, but I feel like I need to in the winter.  Maybe it's my subconscious putting on weight for hibernation.  Or maybe it's my actual conscious not caring because I can totally wear giant sweaters and leggings for months (or as I like to call it, work pajamas).   Either way, it's easy to get caught in the trap of it's cold outside and I don't have to talk to anyone, so I'm just going to eat my giant plate of "insert terrible for you but super delicious food here". and be cold.

However, what usually ends up happening is sometime around March, I realize that my actual pants don't fit, and something must be done.  So, this year, I'm trying to make some of my favorite bar snacks a little bit lighter, because God knows I'm not giving them up.

Enter these homemade chili cheese fries.  By making them at home, you can control what goes in them, bake the potatoes instead of fat frying them, and make a reasonable portion.  Because I don't know about you, but my general idea of a "serving size" is the amount on my plate; in a restaurant, this is always way WAY more than any one person should eat in one sitting.  Or in one week.

Healthier Chili Cheese Fries:

2 Potatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Leftover Chili (might I recommend this quinoa chili)
Shredded Cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 400.

Slice the potatoes into fry like shapes - you can make them as thin or as fat as you'd like, this is your show.  I didn't peel them, because I like the peels, but feel free to do so.  I used red potatoes, because that's what I had, but any kind will do.  Sweet potatoes would probably be amazing as well.  I'll have to try that sometime.

Toss the potatoes with some olive oil and the spices.  You can also add other spices that you like.

Spread the potatoes on a cooling rack that is balanced on top of a baking sheet.  This makes it SO much easier, because you don't have to flip them, they will cook on both sides because there is space underneath them.  Roast them for 25 minutes or so, until they reach your desired amount of crispy.

While the potatoes are roasting, heat up the chili, shred the cheese, and slice the scallions.  Feel free to add whatever other toppings you enjoy; I kept it simple because I was hungry and I didn't really have anything else to add anyways (grocery shopping needs to happen).  If you're feeling ambitious, you can make a cheese sauce, which is how the best chili fries in JP come (they're at Costello's if you're local).

Remove the delicious, crispy fries from the oven.

Dump all the magical toppings onto the potatoes and serve.

Guys, these were awesome.  Seriously awesome.  And you don't feel all greasy and blob like after eating them, which is a total bonus.  You could definitely make a giant platter of them for a party, or you could do a toppings bar, so that everyone can choose their own adventure.  The choice is yours and yours alone, good luck (name that 90's tv show).

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite bar snack? 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

There's something about January that just puts me into cleaning/organizing mode.  Probably the plethora of New Year's resolutions related advertising, Facebook posting, Tweeting, etc that is happening this time of year.  Or, I'm bored and it's too cold to go outside.  Either way, I've been doing a lot of clearing out the past few weeks.  I've taken a lot to Goodwill and have re-purposed things to create more space.  I find the easiest place to re-vamp is the closets. Take the afternoon, go through your clothes, and see what you like. Hint - it's not everything.  Then, more space for new things that you do like.  Or just more space.

I also went through my pantry, just to see what kinds of things were lurking around in the corners.  I've taken things to a food pantry in the past, because I know I'm not going to use it (I'm looking at you, chili sauce).  If you're in the Boston area, I would recommend St. Paul's Brookline.   I have a solid collection right now, so it looks like a trip is in order soon.

I have also found a few things in there that I will eat, but I kind of forgot about.  Like the beautiful, homemade strawberry jam that my friend Erika made for me.  I don't really like PB & J, so I needed to find something else to do with it.  Thumbprint cookies came to mind, since I'm a little tapped out on jam breads.

I had a few for breakfast, but the rest are going to the lovely Lacey, who blogs over at It Is Well.  I have joined a little interwebs club, The Leftovers Club.  Each month, you get the name and address of a fellow blogger, and then you swap treats.  This is the first month that I have participated, and I'm very excited.  I just got some super addictive pecans from her, I can't wait to find out what's in them because I don't want to be without them ever again.   

Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies (adapted from Simply Recipes):

1 Cup Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
Pinch of Salt
2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Jam (I didn't measure this at all)

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Then, add the egg yolks and extract (you can do another kind of extract if you want - but I love almond, so I did that).

Then, add the flour and salt until just mixed.  Put in the fridge for 30 minutes, while your oven heats to 350.

Next, roll the dough into balls and place onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Make an indentation with your thumb (hence the name, if you hadn't gotten there on your own) and fill it with jam.  Be gentle, or else it will crumble.  I found it helpful to use my other hand to smoosh the sides a bit as I was thumb-printing.

Then, pop into the oven for 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool a bit on the sheets before moving to a cooling rack.

A few (that are unpictured) I deemed too crumbled to send, so I had those for breakfast.  These are delicious, easy, and make the house smell great.  You really can't go wrong.

Don't forget to head over to The Leftovers Club and check out the other links and sign up :)

Question of the Day: 

What are some of your favorite alternate uses for pantry staples?  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Quinoa Chili

I promise I'll stop saying this soon, but it's really cold here. And it snowed last week, so I thought in honor of that, I'd make some chili. When I lived with a roommate (Milton's Aunt Liz), we always made sloppy joe's and cinnamon rolls when it snowed. Now that I live with Milty only, I make chili. It's just so lovely and warming on a cold, winter night.

The best thing about chili, in my opinion, is that I almost always have everything I need to make it on hand. Sometimes I have to get an extra can of beans or two, but most things are pantry staples. I pinned this recipe for Quinoa Chili a while back and had most of the things I needed to make it on hand, so I used it as a guide. It turned out great. 

Making this chili also gave me an excuse to use my new favorite kitchen toy, THE STAUB.  For those of you who know, Staub is a brand of amazing cooking ware.  I wanted a dutch oven for Christmas, and had always had my heart set on a Le Creuset, but my lovely parents read an article about Staub and said I should check it out.  We went to Sur la Table and my new BFF Jenn told me all about them and I was sold.  This chili was the first thing I made in it, and I must say that it heats much more evenly.  So far, I love it.

Quinoa Chili  - Adapted from Classy Cooking

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (1 3/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (28 oz) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • Juice of 1 lime

First, if you don't have leftover quinoa, you'll need to cook some.  It's pretty easy, just follow the directions on the back of the box. 

Then, heat the olive oil in your pot.  Add the onion and soften, should take about 5-7 minutes.  Then, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  

Add tomatoes, quinoa, water, and spices, then season with salt and pepper.  I also added about half a bottle of beer.  Give is a little something extra.  Have Milton photobomb for you.  

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 30 minutes. 

Add in the corn, beans, and lime juice.  Cook for another 15ish minutes, until all the ingredients are heated through. 

Serve topped with sour cream/greek yogurt and cheese.  Or slather on top of a potato.  Or make some fries and put it on that.  Add avocado.  Make Frito Pie (if you're not sure what that is, it's basically making tacos in a bag of Frito's and it's amazing).  The possibilities are endless. 

As with many soups and stews, this tastes better on the second day.  Which is good because it makes a ton. Not to worry, just freeze some and pull out of the freezer for game day, a random party, or just because it's cold. 

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite chili topping? 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Velveeta Dip

Guys.  This dip.  OMG.  It's just so good.  And this is potentially the easiest thing that I will ever post on this blog (aside from when I inevitably post the phone number for Same Old Place).  Brown up some sausage, toss in a few cans of Rotel, dice up the Velveeta, turn on the Crock-Pot.  And let me tell you, people go NUTS for this stuff.  There's just something about Velveeta and the way that it melts that makes it superior to other cheeses for dips and sammiches.

In other news, Velveeta's twitter handle is @eatliquidgold.  I don't know why I find this so amusing, but I do. It's the little things. 

Velveeta Dip:

2 Blocks Velveeta 
2 Cans Rotel (I used mild, because that's what they had at the store) 
6 Links Sausage (I used hot, because I thought it would balance the mild Rotel.  And I love it)

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat.  Since I had links, I did have to slice them open and toss out the casing, but you could get bulk sausage and prevent this.  I tried to use a trick I saw on Pinterest and use a potato masher to crumble the meat.  It didn't work; instead the sausage hilariously stuck to the masher. So I went back to using a spoon. 

When it's brown, put it in the Crock-Pot with the Rotel and Velveeta.  I don't drain the Rotel and cut up the Velveeta so that it melts faster.  You don't have to do either of these things.  Please don't take this as a challenge (or if you do, call me and tell me about it), but there is no possible way you can screw this up.  Put on for 2 hours at high, stirring once or twice in the middle to make sure it's blending.

Serve with chips, tortillas, a spoon, etc. 

I'm telling you, this dip is one of my favorite things to eat.  I took it to a NYE party and people were very excited about it.  There is basically nothing healthy about this (even I can't claim that the addition of Rotel makes up for the Velveeta and sausage), but that's ok.  Just don't eat it every day. 

Question of the Day:
What is your go-to party appetizer?