Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Avocado, grape tomatoes, seltzer, and tuna. Now what on Earth does that say about me?! Lunch this week will be my mayo-less tuna salad on baby greens and dinner will hopefully be bun-less turkey burgers with a salad and the summer salmon cakes with zucchini fennel slaw I mentioned last week.
You know what just came to mind? Black beans with brown rice. And just like that, I'm going to add it to my grocery list.
I seriously bump up the flavor of a can of black beans (rinsed) with a finely diced red bell pepper, red onion, garlic galore, some chipotle, and chili powder cooked for about 10 minutes. Cook up a small pot of brown rice, top it with a generous spoonful of the beans and then hit it with tons of fresh cilantro. Light, healthy, meatless, and full of flavor.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I had never been inside the restaurant, only ordered to-go, but it was pretty charming in a no-frills kind of way. Think upscale diner with dim lights and an exposed kitchen. Seating is tight but it's part of the restaurant's schtick. And guess what? I dig the restaurant's schtick.
Mooncake, my friends, has officially become my go-to dinner with friends joint. Cheap, cheerful, and gosh darn good food.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet, July 2009
*Amended by Kiira Leess
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. red onion
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
1 can wild atlantic salmon, skinless and boneless
3 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
1/2 zucchini, coarsely grated (1 cup)
1/2 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Whisk together mayonnaise, 1 tsp lemon juice, red onion, dijon, hot sauce, and 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
Stir together salmon, panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup zucchini, and half of mayonnaise mixture in another bowl.
Add fennel and remaining zucchini and lemon juice to mayonnaise mixture in medium bowl and toss to combine slaw.
Form salmon mixture into 2 patties. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, then cook salmon cakes, carefully turning once, until golden and salmon is just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Serve with slaw.
*An alternative way to prepare this recipe (without the mayo) would be to toss the slaw with a vinaigrette instead. I'm tempted to add some oranges to it as well...
1 medium zucchini, trimmed
2 garlic cloves
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I'm marinating mine all day in a little of my white balsamic vinaigrette)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. water
1 cup torn basil leaves (and some mint if you have it)
lemon wedges for serving
Shave zucchini lengthwise (1/8 inch thick) with slicer, knife, or peeler and place in large bowl. Thinly slice garlic and reserve separately.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Saute chicken until browned and just cooked through, 8 to 14 minutes total. Add chicken to zucchini.
Add garlic to skillet and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Add water and scrape up any brown bits, then drizzle over chicken. Add basil and 1/4 tsp. salt to bowl and toss until zucchini wilts slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Monday, June 22, 2009
2 medium to large zucchinis
3 nectarines ($.99/lb.)
1 medium to large fennel bulb
1 bunch dill ($1)
1 bunch basil ($1)
1 lb. Boar's Head Virginia Ham
7 grain (or more) whole wheat bread
1 package chicken breast
1 salmon fillet ($8.99/lb.) OR 2 cans of canned salmon*
*I have not yet experiment with canned salmon but am intrigued. Think I might go with the canned this time around but will report back.
The plan for this week is to try out two new recipes that use the same veggie (zucchini) but two different proteins (chicken and salmon) which will be a refreshing change from repetitive leftover usage. Again, I don't have the recipes with me but they are: Chicken with Zucchini "Pappardelle" and a Salmon Cake with Zucchini and Fennel Slaw. Sounds good, right? Additionally, I froze my turkey burgers last week so I'm still working with three of those which will fill in for the nights I'm in one of those, "I ate this last night and I'm not feeling it tonight" kind of moods. C'mon, we all get picky and finicky sometimes, don't we? If you're not feeling Virginia Ham sandwiches with avocado for this week's BYOL, go ahead and utilize those two cans of tuna from a week or two ago and try my spin on tuna salad sans mayo.
Recipes to come!
I will be seriously saddened if this was, in fact, the last Midsummer Festival because it was such a lovely little event filled with happy faces and friendly people adorned with crowns made from flowers and foliage. The kind of thing that just makes you feel better simply by being present. We left feeling genuinely content with stomachs full, abs slightly throbbing from laughter, an overwhelming desire to start up Rosetta Stone: Swedish, and huge smiles from ear to ear. Go Svenska. For real.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
But lately, I've been at a standstill. My usual go-to's of Diana Krall, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and the Gipsy Kings are all kind of underwhelming me. I need some new stuff. While playing around with Pandora today, I came across some new stuff that I'm dying to get back home to download. "Le Breakfast Club de Paris" by Giacamo Bondi, "Underwater Love" by Smoke City, and almost anything by Yelle.
Now I need your help. Wanted: Any and all music recommendations for jamming out in the kitchen.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Absolutely deserving of some sort of Prosecco toast tonight, don't we think? Perhaps the perfect opportunity to try out my boy Gary Vaynerchuk's suggestion of Riondo Prosecco for $8.99 (seen here).
Woohoo! Happy Monday!
baby greens (box for $4.99)
grape tomatoes ($1.99)
red onion (1 large)
boar's head honey maple turkey ($6.99/lb.)
turkey burgers (4-pack for $2.99)
sliced cheddar (?)
sandwich sized english muffins (?)
Ok so I know that the list looks a little similar to last week's but that's only because last week's shrimp salad was so freaking yummy that I've decided to make it again. But if you consider that a cheat then here's what you're going to do: Get a small piece of salmon or whatever else kind of fish rocks your boat OR grab some chicken breast if it's on sale and grill some of that up for your salad. This month's issue of Real Simple actually features a very similar salad on their cover of grilled chicken kebabs, grilled peaches and red onions, all served over arugula. So there you go. Same kind of ingredients, slightly different spin. Don't want you getting bored on me that quickly.
Turkey burgers (or ground turkey in general) is actually one of my favorite ingredients. And before you wince, hear me out. It's super low in fat and calories (whether you're watching or not) and it's totally versatile. Swedish meatballs, chipotle turkey meatloaf, burgers, dumpling filling, whatever. Turn to ground turkey. And more often than not, it's often on sale at my grocery store which makes me even HAPPIER. So this week, turkey burgers are more than welcomed in my kitchen. I grill/cook them up, top them with some low fat cheddar cheese and then on to my plate it goes with a generous portion of avocado and finely diced red onion on top. Served alongside a large salad, this is honestly one of my favorite week night meals. Perfectly filling and super satisfying. You could absolutely go the same route with a veggie burger or beef burger if you really don't do the ground turkey thing. But, I'm asking you to at least try it out. It really is that good.
As far as BYOL (bring your own lunch) goes, I'm going with turkey sammies this week, but feel free to get whatever cold cuts you like. Turkey on a well-toasted english muffin with dijon, avocado (if I still have some left), and baby greens with a large handful of grape tomatoes on the side? Bing. Bam. Boom.
Happy shopping and cooking and let me know how it goes!
Sunday afternoon the sun FINALLY decided to grace us with its pleasure and while out running errands with my mom, we swung by Sierra Grill in Stamford, CT for FISH TACOS. Grilled salmon, made to order, is placed on a warm soft taco with plenty of lettuce and tomato and a sour cream sauce to spread on top. I doctored ours up with some chopped red onion and cilantro along with a squeeze of fresh lime. Since the sun was shining, we ate lunch in the parking lot, with the rooftop down in attempts of soaking it all up.
A super fresh, super light take on the fish taco. This is absolutely my winning variation, no guilt here!
Once home, my mom requested I test out the new kitchen by making her some Swedish Cucumbers to have on hand in the fridge. Hmm. Right, she just wanted me to "test out the new kitchen." How convenient! But really, no one has to ask me twice to get cooking. So away I went, carefully slicing the cucumber paper thin and watching the new induction stove bring my pickling liquid to a boil in a matter of seconds. I. Kid. You. Not.
Minutes later, Swedish Cucumbers done. Now it's your turn to make a batch for the week. Step one: add an english cucumber and fresh dill to your weekly grocery list…Soon to come…
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I'm practically twitching.
And today, waiting in my refrigerator is a container of shrimp, diced avocado, sliced peaches, and salad dressing, greatly anticipating their arrival on a bed of greens. Then tonight when I go home, it's steak in the hot pan, slicing of the red onion, and in a matter of 15 minutes, meal #3, 4, and 5 will be prepped and ready to go.
Now it's your turn. Have at it!
Monday, June 8, 2009
So for our trial run, as it is Monday, let's put together a grocery list with a budget in mind (under $30 for the week) that will get you happily fed for a week straight, shall we?
My first step is to browse through the weekly circular for my local grocery store which conveniently has a pdf on their website to check out what's on sale. No, not all of my staples are always on sale, but it is fun to sometimes base a new meal off of something that's on special. For example, this week extra large shrimp ($6.99/lb.) and peaches ($0.99/lb.) are on sale. Two items that would typically be splurges are now a little more attainable. Additionally, sometimes it's best to segment your grocery shopping: produce market for produce, fish monger for seafood, grocery store for everything in between. A bit annoying perhaps, but it will end up saving you money and ensure the best quality.
After checking that out, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that you make a list. Never, ever, ever go into a grocery store without a list. You will end up with a cart full of random stuff and a bill that will keep you from indulging in the next couple of midweek jaunts. Also, it's helpful to write your list according to shopping aisle/area. I start with produce, then move to meats and cheese, grocery items, then frozen section. Time saving 101.
red onion (2)
1 lb. shrimp
1 lb. london broil (around $3.99/lb.)
small log goat cheese
canned tuna (2)
(Cost? I'll get to you tomorrow.)
Cut steak in half and immediately freeze one half. Throw the other half in the fridge (it'll be fine for a day or two). Since the shrimp has the shortest shelf life, cook them all off first thing (or freeze half). Grill 'em with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, or throw them in a hot pan just until their cooked through. Toss them in a salad with some sliced peaches, avocado, and a vinaigrette for a tropical dinner that will be anything but boring. Bring the same for lunch the next day OR chop the shrimp up with a little red onion and a dash of mayo (or some vinaigrette if you're off the white stuff like me) and scoop it up on top of some baby greens.
Next day or two: sear the steak on both sides until desired doneness. Let the meat rest while you thickly slice some red onion and toss it with an ample amount of balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic, a sprinkle of sugar (belive it or not, I used splenda last time...), salt, and pepper. In the same pan you seared the meat, throw the onions in over medium-high heat and allow them to caramelize a bit. They should still have a crunch in the middle but the balsamic vinegar will reduce and become fantastically sweet. Slice the steak, put it on top of baby greens with crumbled goat cheese and the balsamic-glazed onions and dress with vinaigrette. Divine. (Note: I always have a good quality rustic bread sliced in my freezer and pop it right into the toaster oven.)
With the leftover sliced steak, toast up an English Muffin, smear some dijon mustard on top, add a few balsamic-glazed onions and greens, and you've got a darn good steak sandwich for lunch the next day that will have you begging to rip into well before noon.
The tuna can stay forever (nearly), obviously, so if you don't get to it this week, you will the following. I love red onion, celery, chick peas, and lemon vinaigrette in mine. But do as you like! Endless options here.
Cooking for one does not have to be a chore. Just get creative with the leftovers and you'll be set for a week...easily!
Let's make this a Monday ritual, shall we?
However, the shrimp taco was terribly sad. The tiny shrimp were insanely hard and incredibly fishy tasting. Think fish food. I only wish I was exaggerating. Neither one of us could touch them. Perhaps I will give them another chance though, because the other pictures I've seen of them online looked absolutely promising. Off night maybe?
Who knows. Either way, we enjoyed our Mexican treats that night because this dinner somehow carried us through rest of the weekend. I kid you not. Which is why this kind of food will remain the once every month or two indulgence. It's simply too heavy for my taste. Because beyond that, I'm not sure I'd have room to report back any other perfect bites. And if that were the case, well, then it'd all be over my friends.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
So Summer is officially upon us (well, as far as I'm concerned) which means every weekend, this city clears OUT. I mean, I'm hard-pressed to find more than five friends from any of my clans hanging out in the concrete jungle. But, as soon as I get on my Summer beach schedule, I too will hopefully be more M.I.A. Until then, I shared a somewhat gluttonous weekend with my roommate, Ellen. But since this rarely happens for either one of us, we just went with it, with smiles on our faces.
Then it was on to Murray's Cheese for sample upon sample of stinky selections. After tasting our way through a number of Tallegios, we settled on a Grès des Vosges, a cow's milk cheese (Alsatian Muenster) from the Alsace region of France. Pungent, salty, and smooth, it was a worthwhile splurge.
Once back at home, butter and olive oil were heated up in a tall pot and copious amounts of fresh garlic were grated in with a few dashes of red pepper flakes. A splash of white wine dramatically hit the oil and in went the clams. Lid went back on, and they steamed for five or six minutes, shaking the pot every once in a while. A quick salad of fresh boston lettuce, orange, and fennel (this is becoming a habit) were once again dressed with my white balsamic vinaigrette. As soon as the steamers opened up, the pot was hit with a huge handful of freshly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Done. Dinner guests came and went and there was no shortage on food. We sopped up our bowls of uber flavorful broth with plenty of torn pieces of baguette. And trapped in the city or not, we were eating, drinking, and sopping up all of the best parts of Summer right in our very own apartment.