Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shaken it up with Pad Thai

Yesterday I went to Trader Joe's. The trick about that place is going at off hours, which I can do while unemployed. Tuesdays before noon are always easy, so after some early morning errands I embarked on a journey to the eastern edges of Union Square. While waiting in the checkout line that only snaked through one extra aisle, I stumbled upon a box of Pad Thai. The box included noodles and sauce. It sounded simple enough. Also I recently purchased a wok and have yet to use it, so I thought it would be a good excuse to break it out. For my Pad Thai I added extra ingredients that the box didnt call for, but it turned out fantastic. It also happens to be wheat/gluten free so Becca was able to enjoy it as well!

  • Noodles (provided)
  • Sauce (provided)
  • 1-2 eggs
  • Protein of choice (tofu, chicken, prawns)
  • 1/2 cups of assorted mushrooms (finely sliced)
  • 1/4 cup of Snap peas (ends snipped off)
  • 1/4 cup of peanuts (crushed)
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • Sriracha hot sauce (to taste)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Lime wedges for serving
  1. Boil 2 cups of water for noodles, cook noodles for 3-5 minutes or until soft but slightly firm on the inside
  2. Rinse noodles for 30 second under cold water, set aside
  3. In wok or frying pan, put 1 tbsp of veggie oil. Add well beaten egg(s) and cook until scrambled. Set aside.
  4. Add remaining two tbsp of veggie oil to wok. Add mushrooms, snap peas, and protein. Cook 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms and protein are cooked through
  5. Add noodles and sauce and cook until all sauce has been absorbed
  6. Add egg, crushed peanuts and sprouts
  7. Add Sriracha, pepper flakes and salt and pepper as needed
  8. Serve hot!
This actually turned out to be delicious, again the lighting stinks for the picture. But if this was waiting for you to eat, you probably wouldn't take the time to photograph it let alone prep the photo shoot. Mm mmm!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Roasted Lemon Chicken and Tomatoes

On Sunday I decided I really wanted to cook after watching several episodes of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa. She is my absolute favorite. Not only does she love her food, but she is an untrained chef who just loves what she does. Always fresh ingredients and always lots of butter! Can't beat that! So I roasted the tomatoes according to Ina's roasted tomato caprese recipe:

  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not cores) removed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 basil leaves (julienned)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  1. Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.
  3. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramelize.
  5. Sprinkle them with basil and Parmesan and serve. Enjoy!
For the Chicken I was also inspired by Ina, but I took my own route. I decided to use a lemon pepper on the chicken to give it a little more flavor. It worked out. One thing I want to reinforce that Ina swears by, is using chicken breasts (thighs, etc) that still have the bone and skin on. Though I end up pealing the skin off at the end if really keeps the moisture locked into the chicken during the roasting process.


  • Chicken with bone and skin (1 to 2 pieces per person)
  • Lemon pepper
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place chicken on baking sheet, skin side up
  3. Generously cover chicken with olive oil, lemon pepper, salt and pepper
  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes
  5. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin.

My pictures doesn't give this meal justice, I need to work on my lighting and presentation!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

HOOTIE who!!!

So yesterday was a big day! Yoga, job interview, Mexican, Tejano music by Calexico, Hootie and the Blow Fish's lead singer Darius Rucker. The day just kept getting better and better. I'll skip to the good stuff- dinner. I went over to the boys' apartment on Leroy to enjoy a Mexican feast. Jimbo and Eug did the shopping and most of the cooking- chicken and steak fajitas and nachos. Mm mmm. Jimbo marinated the chicken in lime and cooked it in the frying pan along with a side of peppers and onions. Eug seasoned the steak and cooked it in a frying pan. Oh and important side note, garlic butter is fantastic addition to the fajitas! Probably to anything! I was allowed to assist in making the guacamole- according Stephanie March (from Law and Order SVU) it is pronounced wokamole. My advice is put all of the ingredients in large bowl before mixing them together to avoid smooth guacamole.

Ingredients (serves 5):
  • 5 Avocado (keep 3 pits to prevent guacamole from browning, 1 avocado per person should do it)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • 2 jalapenos
  • cilantro to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Halve the avocados, scoop out with a spoon and place in large bowl
  2. Squeeze lime over the avocado to prevent browning
  3. Finely chop onion, tomatoes and jalapeno, place in bowl
  4. Add salt and pepper and cilantro to taste
  5. Mix with a fork until desired consistency
  6. Enjoy on fajitas and nachos!

So the best part of the night was going to City Winery to enjoy Calexico and a guest appearance by Darius Rucker! He was great- who doesn't love Hootie?! And at the end of the show, I said F it and approached him. And then went back up to him and took a picture with Eug's iphone. The lightening was pretty bad in the venue so Hootie, I mean Darius, suggested we go outside to take the pic. I think I'm in love! And not to toot my own horn, but it's my blog so I will, he said I was stunning. What a night! Oh and at City Winery they have great music and really good wine in a wide range of prices. We bought a Pinot Noir from Chile called Veranda. It was great and inexpensive even considering the mark up. Well it was a great night, so thank you to the Leroy gents and to Calexico for bringing me and Darius together.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Volunteering in the City

On Sunday, Eug and I spent the afternoon working at God's Love We Deliver. We were set up with the project through NY Cares. Since I moved here I have been talking about volunteering and with my current status of unemployed, I am able to not only talk about it but actually do it. I am really happy they made the connection for me. I will definitely volunteer at God's Love again and definitely with NY Cares again. NY Cares enables people to volunteer in all sectors of the city from children to seniors food to sports to arts and crafts. Really an amazing program! From 1:30-4:30 we chopped onions, bags and bags of onions. There was sweat, blood, and a lot of TEARS. Seriously. Those onions really kicked my butt.

Moroccan Chicken Sandwich and Chipotle Tomato Soup

It was a very eventful cooking week for me- I made the risotto on Thursday and on Tuesday I made Moroccan Chicken Sandwiches and Chipotle Tomato Soup. I neglected to take pictures of the soup sandwich combo, so you will just have to trust me- they were good. Eugene kindly photographed me chopping onions in my sunglasses because I cry like a baby as soon my knife breaks the skin. I am hesitant to post this photo because its a little frightening, but blogging is not fun without proof!

Ingredients for the sammy's:
  • chicken breast
  • ciabatta rolls
  • lemon
  • harissa
  • cajun spice
  • cayenne/chili powder
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil (more for grilling the chicken)
  • 3 cloves of garlic ( 3 finely chopped for garlic butter)
  • tzatziki-esq sauce: Fage yogurt (1 medium container), 2 kirby cucumbers (finely chopped), crumbled feta, dill, mint, garlic (2 cloves finely chopped) S&P to taste
1. Cut chicken breast into thin pieces
2. Create lemon/harissa mix and shake into chicken breast
3. Rub with cajun/cayenne mix
4. Grill chicken
5. Toast bread with garlic butter
6. Make sauce and spread on both sides of the bread
7. Compile the sandwich and enjoy!

Tomato Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped *LESS
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce *MORE
  • 3 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, in purée (with basil)
  • 3 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth *LESS
  • 3/4 cup cream (or milk) *LESS

1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, then add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, roasted red peppers, adobo sauce (and peppers, if using), and season with salt and pepper. Cook another two minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Pour the juice from the tomato cans into the pot, using your hands or a wooden spoon to hold the tomatoes in. Using your hands, break apart the tomatoes in each can, and add them to the pot as well. Add the broth, season again with salt and pepper, and stir to combine all the ingredients. Bring the soup to a slow simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Carefully puree the soup in a blender or food processor in small batches (or using an immersion blender) until completely smooth, and transfer the soup to a clean pot. Add the cream or milk and season with additional salt or pepper, if necessary. Serve hot.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Squash Mushroom Risotto

Today I made Butternut squash and Leek Risotto. However, I didn't have any leeks in the apartment, so I used a white onion and added mushrooms. It was pretty easy, considering all of the terrifying reports I have heard about making risotto. I used a recipe I found on slashfood and followed it to Epicurious. I halved it and there was still enough for 4 servings.
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups (about) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 medium/small white onion, finely chopped
  • 7-10 button mushrooms (or any type of mushroom), finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsps of butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat the oven to 400, place squash on a baking sheet. Toss them in olive oil and salt and pepper. I also added a little brown sugar. Cook time approx. 40 minutes
  2. Simmer 3 cups of chicken broth in a sauce pan
  3. Simmer 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauce pan, add onions, mushrooms and garlic. Simmer at a low to medium heat.
  4. When onion mix is soft, not browned, add rice stirring constantly, about 1 minute
  5. Add white wine, simmer until completely absorbed; approximately 2 minutes
  6. Add 1/2 cup of stock, stirring frequently until completely absorbed
  7. Add remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time making sure each serving is completely absorbed before adding another- stirring frequently the entire time takes about 20-25 minutes
  8. Add squash, butter, Rosemary and Parmesan until mixed in.
  9. Serve hot and ENJOY!