Bad Habits

And my bad habit of taking blurry cell phone pictures strikes again! But honestly, when you have all this made and ready to go, plated and on the table and all that, you can't really expect me to run upstairs to get my camera, right? 

Anyhow, I made this chick pea salad with inspiration from a dish at my place of employment. My plan was to add lots of goodies to some chick peas and cover it in a yummy dill vinaigrette, but since it turned out I didn't have dill, but I did have everything else I needed, I certainly wasn't going to make a trip to the grocery store just for the dill!  Ah, the cooking of the lazy. 

There was a lot of overlap with the chick pea salad and the Italian pasta salad. They both have mozzarella, roasted red pepper, red onion, and red wine vinegar, so they actually taste good eaten together. I bet right about now you're thinking "man, would that be a great lunch-to-go." I was thinking that, too! Make it the night before, put it all on a bed of lettuce in a tupperware, and you have lunch for the next day. Maybe even the next couple of days if you play your cards right.

Chick Pea Salad
  • 1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 c pepperoncini, sliced
  • mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 c sliced red onion
  • red wine vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • Greek seasoning mix
  • canola oil
  • S&P

1) Place the chick peas through the red onion in a bowl. 

2) In another small bowl, combine a couple Tbsp of red wine vinegar with a squeeze of lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. Greek seasoning mix smooshed between your hands. Drizzle in some canola oil while whisking. Modify the vinegar/oil ratio to your taste. S&P to taste. 

3) Pour the vinaigrette over the chick peas and season to taste. Chill before serving.

Italian Pasta Salad
  • bow tie pasta
  • roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c sliced red onion
  • mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salami, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 c pepperoncini, sliced
  • red wine vinegar
  • Italian seasoning mix
  • canola oil

1) Cook bow tie pasta according to package directions.

2) In a large bowl, combine roasted red pepper through pepperoncini with the bow tie pasta.

3) In another small bowl combine 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar with 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning mix. Drizzle in some canola oil while whisking. S&P to taste. Adjust vinegar/oil ratio to your taste.

4) Pour vinaigrette over the pasta. Chill before serving.


Protein Galore!

White Bean and Tuna Salad

This is another one of those great make-ahead meals that you can take with you somewhere... like on the boat. It is summer, after all. It comes together quickly and can be made earlier in the day or, hey! Maybe even the night before! Then, when you find yourself at 8pm and realize you have nothing in mind for dinner and absolutely no interest in cooking anything, you have this savior in the fridge ready to go! Plus, it's packed with protein, and who doesn't love that?

White Bean and Tuna Salad

  • 1 c chopped red onion
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cans of tuna (6 oz. each)
  • 2 cans of white beans (15 oz. each) (aka: cannellini beans or Great Northern beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c mint, chopped
  • 1/4 c arugula, chopped
  • olive oil
  • S&P
1) Sprinkle some lemon on the chopped onion to take some of the edge off.

2) Drain the tuna and place in a bowl. Break it up with a fork or a wooden spoon. Add beans, onion, mint, arugula, lemon zest, lemon juice, S&P to taste. Add olive oil and more lemon juice as needed.

3) Chill and enjoy when you're ready!


Meatless Monday: Stephanie's Beet Dip

Stephanie's Beet Dip

In honor of the beautiful weather this past weekend, my dear friend, Stephanie, and I took a little stroll to the farmer's market and picked up some fresh beets. Normally I wouldn't be caught dead with beets, but Stephanie makes this seriously delicious beet dip that is the most beautiful magenta color I've ever seen. Served spread on slices of bread and cucumbers, it's a perfect summery snack to enjoy outside!

Stephanie's Beet Dip
  • 1 lb. beets, scrubbed clean
  • 4 Tbsp. tahini
  • 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin, plus more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
  • S&P
  • horseradish to taste
1) Cut tops off of the beets, quarter them, and cook them in a pot of boiling water until tender. Drain and peel the skin off. Place the beets with the rest of the ingredients except the horseradish in a food processor. 

2) Pulse until smooth. Stir in horseradish to taste and adjust seasoning. 


Pesto Salmon

Pesto Salmon

So since fancy pants here found herself a new part-time J.O.B. at a restaurant in the carry-out/deli/catering department, I've been all kinds of inspired! We serve a pesto salmon at work, filled with plenty of cream, butter, oil, fat, calories, but boooyyyy is it delicious!

As promised, I am sharing with you the recreation of said pesto salmon that Mom and I made for Mother's Day. We left out a bit of the bad stuff (but not that much). You can also do this with chicken, just follow your heart!

Pesto Salmon
  • 1/4 c pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 c basil, lightly packed
  • S&P to taste
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c parmesan, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 8 oz. cream (or half and half)
  • long pasta of your choice
  • grilled salmon or chicken
1) Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt. 

2) Make the pesto. Put the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it's chopped. With the food processor on, stream in the olive oil. Stir in the parmesan and set aside.

3) Cook your pasta according to package directions. 

4) Melt butter in a skillet. Stir in some flour until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in some cream and then some pesto until it tastes good! Pour sauce over your pasta and top with some grilled salmon or a grilled chicken breast. It's gooooood.


Mother's Day!


As you know (or as I sure hope you knew), Sunday was Mother's Day, but today is also Mother's Day at my house. My brother is moving home for the summer and he arrives today! Tonight to be exact. Starting tonight, we are once again a household of four. Five if you count Charlie (the dog), which I do. 

Well I must say I had a fantastic Mother's Day (and Mom did, too!). I treated my mom to a breakfast spread of assorted bagels with cream cheese, fruit salad, orange juice, and flowers. Then Mom and I did something we love to do. One of those silly little things that gives us such joy, but that we rarely have time for: we browsed at a fancy grocery store. Even Charlie was licking his chops in anticipation of all the treats we brought home. 

Have you ever been to Plum Market? They have a lovely wine selection, great prices, and hello a wine tasting area where you can bet your behind we paid a visit.

And then the attractive young man working in the produce department (I swear, they only hire attractive young people to work in this place) explained to us that Rambutan is not an evil character in a Disney film, but a fruit that's sort of like a grape on the inside. Peel away that hazardous outer skin and inside you'll find clear-ish grape-like flesh with a mild flavor.

We finished the day off with a cheese appetizer (mozzarella filled with Italian cream and stracciatella) and pesto salmon. Seriously, this salmon is so good, you're gonna plotz! But you'll have to check back later this week for the low-down...


Meatless Monday: Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce Wraps
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)

I was pretty skeptical of this whole Meatless Monday thing when I moved home, but I must say, it's meals like these that really make me see the light. And since my big brother is moving home for the summer and he refers to all meatless meals as "hippy food" we're going to have to break out the big guns. Put this at the top of the list of meatless meals to impress my brother with!

These babies are such a nice treat. They're light. They're flavorful. And at almost no calories at all, you can eat tons of them and still have room for dessert! Just one thing: once you assemble a lettuce wrap and pick it up, don't even try setting it down or it will completely fall apart and you will no longer have a lettuce wrap but more of a lettuce mess on your plate. 

Lettuce Wraps
  • 12 oz extra-firm tofu
  • 1 Tbsp bottled chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 c hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sherry or Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 2 scallions, greens trimmed and reserved, thinly sliced (about 1/3 c each greens and whites)
  • 1/2 c finely diced water chestnuts
  • 1 large head Bibb lettuce, outer leaves discarded, leaves separated
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 c chopped peanuts
1) Line a plate with paper towels, cover with another couple of paper towels, and set a plate on top. Place something heavy on top and let it sit for 20 min. 

2) Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and sherry.

3) Slice tofu into 1/2 in thick slabs and lay on top of paper towels. Use more paper towel to firmly pat the tofu. The goal is to get as much moisture out of the tofu as possible. It should take about 2 min and use about 3 paper towels. Finely mince tofu and set aside. 

4) Heat oil in a wok or very large skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and scallion whites and cook until scallion whites are translucent and ginger is fragrant, about 2-3 min. Add tofu and cook, stirring, until warmed through. Add reserved sauce. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring, another 3-4 min. Add water chestnuts and stir to incorporate. 

5) Fill each lettuce leaf with the filling. Add scallion greens, red peppers, and peanuts on top and enjoy!


Big Kid Chicken Fingers

this kid loves chicken fingers
(btw, I did not take this picture. I do not know this kid. I'm only guessing that he loves chicken fingers based entirely on the distance his tongue is able to stretch to reach chicken finger crumbs on his face.)

Remember going out to dinner as a kid and knowing instantly what you would order? You had your stand-bys: grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, and... chicken fingers. I seriously don't know a kid who doesn't like chicken fingers.

But the joy doesn't have to end with your childhood! You can make chicken fingers at home and just jazz them up a bit to fit your adult palette. This "recipe" is really meant to be adapted to fit your needs. Don't like spicy stuff? Cut back on the garlic and paprika. Want to make a whole bunch? Easy. Just combine more of everything.

Big Kid Chicken Fingers w/ Honey Mustard
serves as many as you want

  • chicken breasts
  • buttermilk
  • paprika
  • panko
  • garlic powder
  • S&P
  • cooking spray
  • mayonnaise
  • dijon mustard
  • honey
1) Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk and paprika to your liking (enough to cover your chicken). Cut chicken breasts into strips. Put them in the buttermilk bowl and stir to cover everything. Let marinade for about an hour.

2) Meanwhile, prepare a cookie sheet by placing a cooling rack on top of it. Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray. Prepare the honey mustard dressing. Start by combining 1/2 c mayonnaise, 2 tsp dijon mustard, and 1 Tbsp honey. Adjust the combination from there, adding more dijon if you like it more mustardy and more honey if you like it sweeter.

3) On a large plate or a shallow baking dish, combine panko, garlic powder (again, as much as you like), S&P. Just make sure there is enough to coat all of your chicken pieces. (Don't worry, you can always add more ingredients if you run out.) Dip each piece of chicken in the panko mixture, covering all sides well and place on the cooling rack. 

4) Spray each piece of chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 350℉ until cooked through. (I recommend using a meat thermometer.)