Tag Archives: Quick and Easy

raw fish

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus & Fish Wraps

A new post! I know you’re wicked excited (I am too). Once again I left you waiting for a long time, sorry. The past three weeks I’ve been trying to eat better and exercise more, it being a New Year and all, so I’ve been making already developed healthy recipes. Mostly I’ve been using The Best of Cooking Light, which is an amazing book. I also have done a lot a research into healthy eating and dieting, revisted my Nutrition textbook, and started keeping a Diet and Fitness Journal. I’ve lost about 7 lbs so far (apparently there is an initial amount of weight-loss awesomeness at first before your body adjusts and makes you work harder), and I’m learning to balance calories and exercise, so it looks like I’m headed in a good direction. I sure as hell will not do any diet that involves any form of starving, because I’d rather be healthy than look like a skeleton.

Why should you care about my health? Well, it means this website will probably feature healthier (and still delicious!) recipes. Not that my recipes were full of lard before, but I wasn’t focused on the overall nutrition of them. Now I want to try for more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and nuts. It’s saladpalooza up in here.

I’ve been eating a lot of wraps lately, which I find to be fantastic and filling. Multi-grain tortillas are amazing (especially with Tabouli wrapped up in it). I also have been using hummus as a spread in wraps, not an original idea but still a delicious one. I felt like combining my new loves, wraps and hummus, with some fish and spinach. Why not, right? Plus, this fish (just a generic white fish, like tilapia, but not) was a Buy 1 get 2 Free sale at Big Y.

This isn’t really a recipe so much as it is a wrap suggestion. Except for the hummus, here’s a link for my Sun-dried Tomato Hummus. But you could also just buy hummus.  Also, my camera is broken so I did the best I could with pics.

First we have the fish. Just a general white fish. I sprayed them with an olive oil cooking spray to get an even coat, and to make sure I didn’t use to much olive oil. Then sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and a generous amount of an Italian Seasoning blend. I figured the Italian Seasoning would go well with the sun-dried tomato hummus.

Then I baked them at 375  for about 15 minutes, just until they’re white all the way through and you can flake them with a fork.

Meanwhile, I made the spinach/mushroom/onion mix. First I finely chopped half an onion, then cooked it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder until soft. Then I added a can of drained mushrooms. Lastly I added about a 1/2 pound of frozen spinach, and sauteed until heated through.

Once everything was ready, I assembled the wrap.

Step one: Lay a multi-grain tortilla in a plate.
Step two: Spread some hummus.
Step three: Add some spinach mixture.
Step four: Break apart half a fish and lay it on top.
Step five: Wrap it and eat it.

And you’re done! I used myfitnesspal.com to try to figure out the calories and fat per wrap, and came up with about 195-200 calories and about 6 grams of fat per serving, and I had two wraps for dinner. So it was a good meal, and I am completely full! Although I have to try to avoid the food coma so I can exercise some more…willpower is obnoxious!

 

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Parsley and Walnut Pesto, featuring roasted garlic

So…I haven’t posted anything in a while, do you forgive me? I was a little busy this summer with my internship, but I will try to never again leave you waiting for so long.

Although I will leave you waiting for the recipe due to my usual rambling, so here’s a preview of the actual purpose of this post.

I haven’t been able to check on the garden at my parent’s house very often this summer, but I do know it wasn’t quite as prosperous as last year. There was probably too much rain for some of the vegetables. We still got a lot of tomatoes and green beans, but practically no squash or cucumbers. It was a little sad. We attempted beets and carrots this year too, and it looks like we may have planted them too close together, but it’s ok because we still got some delicious product from it!

Check out these lovely beet greens, and the carrot greens behind them

Tomatoes! You might see these a couple times in this post as a garnish

We did manage to get a ton of herbs, which we smartly planted right outside the kitchen door. I came home from NYC on August 26th, so my mom and I made sure to cut as much of the herbs as we could to save them from Hurricane Irene. It started raining while we gathered, but the hurricane didn’t really get going until much later.

Basil!

We decided to freeze most of the basil. So we cut, picked the leaves, washed them, let dry, then put into freezer storage bags and hoped the hurricane wouldn’t knock out our power (it didn’t). I saved some unpicked bundles in a container of water to use during the week.

I love me some parsley

We did pretty much the same thing with the parsley, except I kept a lot more unfrozen to make a parsley pesto for dinner.

I know many people make basil pesto. I had a ton of basil, why did I make the pesto predominantly with parsley? Well, because I felt like it. Were you expecting a real reason? And why walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts? Because we had walnuts in the house, and because they are way cheaper than pine nuts and still delicious.

One more explanation before I present you with the recipe: why did I roast the garlic? That’s an easy one. My parents don’t like raw garlic. Even in a delicious pesto they find the flavor to be too overwhelming. So, I roasted it. A head of garlic might sound like a garlic festival to those who aren’t fond of the tasty morsels, but when you roast it the flavor becomes much more subtle and bearable. Just cut the top off of the head leaving the cloves exposed. Don’t worry, there’s a picture coming later.

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Berbere Coconut Sauce

To prove that there are multiple uses for the Berbere Blend I wrote about in the last post, I thought it prudent to make myself a delicious dinner of grilled chicken over rice and spinach with a Berbere Coconut Sauce. I suffer so much in pursuit of a successful blog! It was fantastic, with the Berbere kick after a few seconds that I absolutely love.

Here’s a teaser for you:

The sauce is a reduction of coconut milk and chicken broth, so do take care to not season too much before it has reduced, or else the concentrated flavors may lead to it tasting way too salty. Because of this, I made sure to use low-sodium chicken broth. Sometimes I make smart decisions. Also, if you’re a wuss, use less of the Berbere Blend for a less spicy experience.

If you’re curious, I marinated the chicken in rice vinegar, oil, Berbere Blend, salt and pepper before grilling it. And yes, it was quite scrumptious.

Not too exciting to look at, but here’s the sauce! At least it’s pretty :)

If I were in class, in order to thicken the sauce I would probably grab another pan, make a roux, grab a bowl, temper the roux with the sauce, and slowly whisk it in. Well, I wasn’t at school when I made this, and I already was dreading washing dishes, so I just made a flour slurry. It’s simple, put a small amount of flour into a bowl or mug, add some of the reduction, and mix it until it’s smooth. Add more sauce if necessary, then add it back to the sauce pan. See how easy! It worked just fine for my needs.

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Berberé Blend & Couscous with Raisins

It’s starting to get warm outside, and this leaves me craving spicy food. Trust me, spicy hot food in the summer and cold food in the winter. It puts things into perspective. And nothing is worse in the summer than warm, melting, sticky, messy ice cream. Let’s leave that for the winter, shall we? Plus there’s also something about food and regulating body temperature and all that good logical reasoning stuff. And of course, once the heat and humidity actually hit I’m going to be desperately trying to cool down with cold cucumber soup and lemonade. But I’m allowed to be hypocritical on my own blog, right?

Because you dealt with my ranting so well, here’s a lovely treat for you! Hint: It’s the topic of today’s post!

For now, let’s go with spicy and a hint of sweetness since springtime isn’t all that hot yet. I decided it would be fun to make a dish I cooked in my Nutrition class. Our groups were assigned different continents and had to come up with healthy meals that reflect the culture in those areas. My group got Africa, and one of the interesting things I found was an Ethiopian spice blend called Berbere. According to The Congo Cookbook, this is the foundation of Ethiopian cuisine.

I could only find whole anise seed, which was awesome since I love using my         mortar and pestle :)

I used this blend to season couscous, and then mixed in raisins (hence the sweetness), and added some toasted slivered almonds for a bit of crunch.

I just cook the almonds in a pan with a little bit of oil until they get nice and brown, like how you see them on the couscous.

When I was trying to find all the spices so I could make my own bottle of the spice, I had difficulty finding some, and some were just too expensive for me to be able to buy right now. So I just altered the ingredients, and still somehow it came out to be delicious. I’m a genius! I’m also opposed to putting salt and pepper into spice blends, it’s better to be able to control it yourself, so I opted not to include it. And with the couscous, normally the water:couscous ratio is 1:1, but I prefer it 1.5:1, so that’s how I wrote my recipe.

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Berberé Blend

½ tsp. Allspice
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Cumin
2 tsp. Anise
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Ginger
3 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Cayenne
¾ tsp. Cardamom (optional)
½ tsp. Coriander (optional)

 

 

Berberé Couscous with Raisins

1 Tbsp. Olive oil
½ Onion, diced
1 Tbsp. Berberé Blend
1 ½ cups Chicken Broth
¾ cup Raisins
1 cup Whole wheat couscous
Salt and Pepper to taste
Slivered, toasted almonds for garnish

In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until tender. Add the Berbere Blend and cook about 1 minute. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in raisins and couscous, cover and let sit 5 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, and top with almonds.

Spicy, sweet, soft and crunchy. And also still tastes good when it’s cold! Is this a winner? Um….yeah it sure is. Duh  :)

 

Up next: I’ll make a Berbere marinated chicken with some sort of Berbere coconut sauce concoction! It’s going to be delicious! (Well, at least I hope it is since it’s what I plan on having for dinner…)

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Donut Muffins

That’s right. Donut muffins. Are the donuts in the shape of muffins, or are they muffins that taste like donuts? You know what, it doesn’t even matter. I’m just glad I found this recipe. In the past I have tried various donut recipes. One was for baked donuts, which ended up tasting and having the texture of bagels. Another was for deep fried donuts, which were quite delicious but still a little off-putting when you realize how much oil you’re eating later on. And then I found these.

These are fantastic. They are cakey donuts, like a plain donut, except they have flavor and are baked instead of fried. I didn’t mess with the recipe this time, but I’m getting ideas already for different flavors I can make with this. It’s incredibly easy, and only makes 12 donuts so I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed and thinking “oh crap, now I have to eat ALL of these?” like I did last time when I made a batch of about 30.  At least both times I had roommates to help :)

I won’t go into a whole spiel about how I created these and what was going through my mind, because I didn’t create the recipe and all I was thinking was how it’s a cold night and I wanted to bake something to make the house warm. Mission accomplished.

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Peanut Butter and Banana Oat Cookies

Over a year ago my friend and I stumbled upon a great recipe for Banana Oatmeal Cookies, which we tried and loved. I immediately thought of how these were the perfect solution to making cookies for my dad, who happens to be Diabetic. Why so great? Well, because there is no sugar added. The sweetness is all in the natural sugars of the raisins and bananas. How does this solve my dilemma of Diabetic cookies? Because most sugar free recipes are awful. They use sugar substitutes, which cause any baked good to be horribly dry and have a strange after-taste, and I don’t like to make things that I myself wouldn’t eat.

These cookies are pure genius. I’ve changed a few things in the original recipe, but that’s just part of its charm! One adorable aspect of the recipe is that it calls for 1 cup of oats, as well as 1 cup of oat flour. Oh no, I have to buy a whole bag of a weird flour?! Is that what you’re thinking? Silly you! No! All you have to do is put the oats in a blender or food processor and kick it in gear until it becomes a powder!

Before

After!!

In fact, I make the whole recipe in my food processor. It’s quite convenient. Bananas need to be mashed? How about I pulverize them instead? Let’s add the peanut butter to that as well. Raisins need to be chopped? I think I’ll let them go for a quick whirl. Now what? Oh, just mix it all, let it sit, and plop it on the baking sheet.

Before cooking. They are just as pretty when cooked

About the peanut butter, here’s a quick story for you. There was no peanut butter in the original recipe, but I really like it and thought these needed an extra flavor and so I took away a banana and added peanut butter in its’ place. Did it work? You betcha! I was tempted to eat them all and not share with my dad, but I’m just too nice. The original also called for dates instead of raisins, but my family likes raisins so I went with those. If I were making them just for myself I might use other dried fruits, but many of them have added sugar so raisins are a safe bet if it’s sugar you’re avoiding.

I’m sure there are other reasons why these cookies are fantastic. Let’s see, Diabetic friendly, no eggs for those with egg allergies, vegan if you use vegetable oil instead of butter, they’re healthy, and I think there must be another reason. Hmmm….oh yes! They are delicious!! These cookies just plain win.

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Zucchini Frittelle

I like to think of these as zucchini pancakes. They are slightly cake-like and a little eggish and very zucchini flavored. I got this recipe initially over a year ago from my mom’s friend, and this year when her friends were over and looking in the garden they reminded me of this recipe and how it would be a good way to use some of the zucchini. I tried it out, not really remembering how I made it before, and they came out pretty well. I think they are a little darker than they should be, but I still enjoyed them and my family quickly devoured them.

I tweaked some bits of the recipe a little to fit the ingredients I had on hand and wanted to use, or didn’t have on hand as the case was. The recipe called for 2 small zucchini, I only had 1 large one, so I decided it was acceptable.  The recipe also called for just basil leaves, but as I was in a charitable mood I allowed parsley to join the party as well. It’s an easy recipe to play with. My only problem was the recipe only vaguely said ‘heat some oil’ and I wasn’t sure how much that meant. Should I pan fry? Deep fry? I went with the cheaper and healthier option and just used a little oil and pan fried it, like so.

There isn’t much to say about this recipe. It’s very simple and doesn’t have all that many ingredients, and there aren’t any intricate preparation instructions. I did enjoy using one of the shredding blades on my food processor to finely grate the zucchini with no effort at all on my part. It totally beat the days when I used a box grater like a chump. Then just mix, fry, eat! Although I will warn you, it is a little oily so I recommend laying them on a paper towel covered plate while they cool!

mmmmmmm…cheesy and green, a good combination

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Minty Raspberry Limoncello

It’s starting to be a tad bit sweltering out, so it’s time to make cooler and more refreshing recipes for this here blog! What’s more refreshing than a liquored up citrus drink? A liquored up citrus drink with mint! I’m a genius. Also I’ve been wanting to use mint in more things, and this was the first thing that came to mind. I have future plans of turning this into a semifreddo. I can already taste it, and damn it’s good.

There’s no real story of how this drink came to be. Mostly just that I love Limoncello, I wanted to use it in a mixed drink with mint, and I happened to have a bottle of Raspberry Lemonade in the fridge. And so this delightful, lush drink of summertime refreshment was invented!
You can easily substitute the Raspberry Lemonade with any other juice type drink you may have, for example I think a grapefruit juice would be an acceptable substitution.
The Limoncello, however, should not be substituted simply because I adore it. Go ahead, buy a bottle. You’ll need it once you try this golden elixir. I use it mostly when I’m making fruit ice creams, and it’s glorious. I usually simmer frozen berries in a little bit of Limoncello and sugar and then mix it into the custard to become the main flavor. I will be posting those recipes eventually, but on my main website and not the blog. No worries, I’ll give you a link to it.

And yes, the bottle is almost empty. Time to get some more!
What is Limoncello? I’ll just tell you how wiki describes it:

Limoncello (or lemoncello) is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy. Traditionally, it is made from the Sorrento lemon, though most lemons will produce satisfactory limoncello. Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as an after dinner digestivo. Along the Amalfi Coast, it is usually served in small ceramic glasses themselves often chilled, the Amalfi coast being a center of both ceramic and limoncello production. This tradition has been carried into other parts of Italy.

Sound good? Yeah it does. It’s tasty all on it’s own, but sometimes it’s fun to have brightly colored mixed drinks in the afternoon and not get completely wasted.

The nice thing about Limoncello, besides the color and usefulness, is the flavor. When you drink it, it’s very clearly alcoholic but much smoother than vodka. When I have vodka in a mixed drink, no matter how much or little, it’s the overpowering flavor. In this drink, you can taste the lemony goodness, but it’s a subtle note that pleases your taste buds without feeling like you were just punched in the mouth.

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Spicy Mango Dip

I had a whole thing typed up about this recipe, and then somehow deleted the entire thing. I don’t really feel like typing it all again, so I’ll sum it up.


~Made it in Boston. Had a BBQ. Good times
~Made it again, some changes, still tasty. Good times.
~Made it for Memorial Day. More changes. Used fresh mint from my garden. Good times.


Perfect summer-time dip recipe. Spicy, sweet, and refreshing at once.

Play with ingredients, change, substitute, have fun. If you have a lame allergy to mango, like Karen does, use peaches or something instead.


Done. Enjoy!

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Simple Mozzarella-Steak Pinwheel

Using pizza dough the way it’s used in this recipe is a very simple, yet very impressive, technique. It’s the most basic stuffed bread, but when your guests have a piece they’ll think you spent forever making it because it is just that awesome.

Once again my parents had their friends over and I agreed to make a few snacks for them. These are good opportunities for me to practice cooking since I can pick whatever I want to make and then have them pay for the ingredients! I have made pinwheels before; I used a recipe out of one of Giada’s cookbooks and have since altered it a little. Her recipe had the bread stuffed with mozzarella, spinach, and prosciutto. I made it that way, and it was fantastic. When I made it again this time, I took out the prosciutto since my mom’s friend is a vegetarian. And it was still fantastic.

But then I was thinking, what about everyone else? Surely they would like a stuffed bread with meat in it too (mostly I was thinking of me). So I decided to make an entirely different recipe, using steak. And what goes with steak and bread better than pepper, onions, mushrooms, and cheese? That’s right, nothing. And so this recipe was born. And then devoured.

Seriously, it was delicious. And so easy to make. Especially if you just buy the pizza dough like I do. You can make it from scratch, but the would negate the point of this recipe being quick and easy. It’s also very versatile, so it’s easy to substitute whatever you want. But you’ll want to try this one, trust me.

Remember, the thinner the cut of steak you can buy, the better it will roll in the bread! So try your best, ok?
Also, props to Mark for seasoning the steak and helping me make this.

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