Thursday, April 28, 2011

Simply Soup

This recipe is actually from last Thursday, but the fact is I didn't have time to cook tonight ( I guess I could still do it now, but I just want to relax and enjoy being done with my final presentation) and this soup was too good to pass without a post.

I made this from leftover broccoli and it really is one of the easiest, but most delicious, soup recipes I have ever made. Then again, as I have admitted before, I am a soup addict. Still, I advise you take the hint and throw in your favorite vegetable to make a delicious and light dinner.

Broccoli Basil Soup (adapted from How To Cook Everything)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 3/4 lb. broccoli, sliced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • S & P
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  1. Put butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Once butter is melted, add vegetables and cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat so that stock bubbles and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thick and vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Season with S & P.
  3. Let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to blender. Carefully puree soup. Add basil and blend once or twice to combine. Return soup to pot and heat over low heat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Salutation: Strawberry Shortcake

Last week I was challenged to make strawberry shortcake from scratch (whipped cream and all). There was no way I was going to turn down my first challenge, mainly for two reasons: I had never tried such dessert before and the whole point of my challenges page is to take them on!

Anyways, making them today worked out perfectly because it is nice outside and the fruity dessert fits in perfectly with my sweet tooth. After eating my first ever shortcake, I am sitting in my living room enjoying the little free time I have left before I have to keep working. I have been up since early this morning and expect to sleep late tonight, which is why I am trying to savor every moment of my day that doesn't involve schoolwork--just like I enjoyed every last bit of the shortcake.

A few side notes before the recipe:
  • I used 1 cup cake flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour for the biscuits. Partly because I had leftover cake flour, but also because I figured it would give the biscuits more of a dessert consistency.
  • It was very tiring to make the cream (I had forgotten how its takes very long in the beginning and then all of a sudden it whips itself into shape) but it was definitely worth it. I am not a big whipped cream fan, but homemade I can deal with.
  • I will be making this dessert in the future with other berries and fruits such as caramelized apples or pears, so stay tuned.
  • And last but not least, shout out to Patrick who challenged me: I won't forget your support since the beginning!!

Buttermilk Biscuits (adapted from How to Cook Everything)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add butter and, using your fingers, combine with dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. You will have to squish some of the butter pieces gently.
  2. Stir in buttermilk and mix just until dough forms. transfer dough onto lightly floured surface and knead no more than 10 times. If dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour, but dough should slightly stick to your hands. Press dough into 3/4-inch thick rectangle and cut out 2-inch circles ( I used a drinking glass). Roll out leftover doug again, careful not to over work it, and cut out as many biscuits as possible.
  3. Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Let cool for one minute and cover with cloth to keep warm.




Strawberry Shortcake (adapted from How to Cook Everything)

  • 1 recipe buttermilk biscuits
  • 4-5 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  1. Place strawberries in a large bowl and coat with sugar. Carefully turn until all are covered. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form (easiest if done with electric mixer, but definitely possible by hand). Slowly add vanilla extract and confectioner's sugar and whip for one more minute.
  3. Slice each biscuit and fill with strawberries and cream.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken & Corn

I am still working my way through recipes from If It Makes You Healthy. I will soon be able to review my first cookbook, but first, I need to try out some other recipes. Tonight I crossed off two recipes from the list (not that I have one written or anything): "Airliner" Chicken Breasts and Corn and Thyme Pancakes.

I have to say the chicken was delicious. Tender and savory. In addition, it was such an easy recipe to make. Just make sure you leave it to marinate long enough (more than 4 hours) and you're all set. The corn pancakes on the other hand were ... different. I'm not saying they're bad, but they're something other than what I expected. It wasn't until after I had half a pancake and realized I was having a pancake, that it tasted great.

The recipes follow, but first I should mention that I am almost done with my sophomore year of college and I am freaking out. I still can't understand how time can go by so quickly; it feels like just yesterday I was hauling a yellow cart into my dorm room.

Anyways, more about my college life up until now will come in future posts, but here are the recipes.

"Airliner" Chicken Breasts (adapted from If It Makes You Healthy)

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage), roughly torn
  1. In a Ziplock bag, combine lemon juice and olive oil. Place chicken breasts inside the bag and cover with mixture. Add herbs and shake gently to coat chicken completely. Place marinade in refrigerator and let sit for 4-12 hours.
  2. An hour before cooking, remove chicken from marinade and let excess drip. Place chicken in a shallow dish and cover with plastic.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a medium pan, over medium high heat, sear chicken breasts skin side down, for about 4 minutes. Turn over and cook for 2 additional minutes. Remove chicken from stove and place in dish. Cook in oven for 20 minutes, or until tender but fully cooked.

Corn and Thyme Pancakes (adapted from If It Makes You Healthy)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cooked corn kernels
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. 
  2. Add eggs, yolk, milk and oil and mix to form batter. Gently incorporate corn, scallions, and thyme. 
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/3 cup batter into pan and lightly flatten with back of spoon. Work in batches. Cook pancakes until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes each.




Sunday, April 24, 2011

Applesauce Cornbread Muffins

It has been a while since my last post; or at least it feels like it. Again, last week was hectic, so when the weekend rolled around I was happy to step away from my student life and relax. That and I went to New York City. So for those reasons--and not having internet all weekend long-- no posts were available. Although I had my pictures ready to be uploaded, I couldn't do it until now.

In this post you will see the result of having leftover applesauce in my fridge and two containers of corn meal (my mistake). Anyways, I found a recipe for applesauce cornbread online and decided to adapt it to make corn muffins--some of my favorites. But before that, let me give an update on other issues.

As I mentioned before, I went to NYC for the weekend. Express visit to meet up with my sister and mom who are looking at schools in the area. Arrived Friday night--after spending 3.5 hours doing a lot of homework on the train-- and left on Sunday around 4 pm. Before I go on, let me tell you that I almost missed my train. I don't know why this has happened to me twice already, but its one of the most nerve-wracking situations I've been in. I am one of the most organized and plan-ahead-type of people, yet I have found myself challenging NYC traffic in more than one occasions.

But I made it. I got on the train with exactly seven minutes to spare (after running down one block and all around Penn Station with a trench-coat in one arm, two handbags in the other, a fedora on my head, and a pink suitcase rolling behind me).

So that was not fun! But the rest of the weekend was. Delicious meals with my family, a comfortable hotel, one huge shopping spree, and a night out in the city of bright lights. What more could I ask for in a weekend away from Boston? I am happy to be coming back to my cozy apartment, but I will go back to the Big Apple whenever!

Ok. So here is the recipe for the Applesauce Cornbread Muffins. Do take into consideration that I think a) it has too much baking soda and b) not enough applesauce or sugar. I will post an updated recipe once I get to experiment with it, but for the time being go ahead and alter it yourself.

Applesauce Cornbread Muffins (adapted from food.com)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (maybe try only 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (up to 1/3 cup?)
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease or line a muffin pan (12 muffins).
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl stir milk eggs and applesauce until combined. Fold wet mixture into dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour into muffin cups and bake until golden brown, about 15-17 minutes.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recipes from If It Makes You Healthy

So I am preparing to review my first cookbook. Yes, I am not a cookbook critic! Isn't that exciting? I would say so! Anyways, in the hopes that my first review garners a lot of views I am working my way through several recipes to see if they are as delicious as they claim.

The book: If It Makes You Healthy.
The authors: Sheryl Crow--who is apparently now a cook-- and Chuck White
The claim: "more than 100 delicious recipes inspired by the seasons"
My progress: two recipes; Oatmeal Currant Cookies and Haricots Verts Salad

So out of the first two recipes I've made, one pleased me and the other one was alright. I don't mean to undermine the recipes, but I will definitely make some adjustments to them in the future. But I don't want to give anything away before I actually review the book, so for now I'll just give you the modified recipes and let you decide for yourselves.

The cookies are not what you would usually imagine when tasting an oatmeal cookie. They're very chewy but taste great.

The salad is good, but the extra taste that the white balsamic vinegar adds makes it a whole lot better (although I am a biased balsamic vinegar-lover)

Oatmeal Currant Cookies (adapted from If It Makes You Healthy)

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (doesn't specify if it should be cold or room temperature, so I would say cold)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix sugar and butter until blended. Add egg and beat constantly for 1 minute. Slowly add applesauce and milk and beat until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in two batches, blending well after each addition.
  4. Add oats and currants and mix until just combined. 
  5. Drop cookies in tablespoons onto baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies look crisp around edges. Cool cookies on baking sheets fro 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely on rack.






Haricots Verts Salad (adapted from If It Makes You Healthy)

  • 2 cups green beans (haricots verts if you can find them)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, slightly toasted
  • 12 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • S & P
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly soft, water still boiling. Drain green beans and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water. (This is called blanching). Drain green beans after 3 minutes in ice water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and add green beans. Toss to mix and season with S & P. Serve cold.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roasted Tofu (and Midnight Marathon Bike Ride)

Tofu is a hit-or-miss ingredient. Some people love it and others hate. I find that everyone is on either extreme, but it is rare to meet someone who likes tofu only in certain ways (I might be mistaken, but this is from my experience).

I was a tofu hater once. But now I am a tofu addict. Yes, my name is Estefania Souza and I am a tofu addict. I love it on grilled, roasted, marinated; on salads, pastas and even on its own.

So before I go on to posting the recipe I need to tell you about my Sunday/Monday. It all started Sunday evening when my friends and I went to pick up our rented bikes in the North End. We got our bikes fitted, collected helmets (that we didn't actually use on the adventure) and flat-tire kits, and rode off into Boston. South Station was our next stop. We figured if we bought the tickets for the commuter rail then, we wouldn't be able to arrive later that night without being worried about not getting on the train (you'll understand all of this if you keep reading).

After that, we proceeded to bike home and get a quick dinner. At around 9:30 p.m., four of us left Boston University on our bikes. Destination: South Station. Final destination: Southborough.

10:45 p.m. hit and we were on the train sitting next to our bikes waiting for the 11 o'clock departure time. Anxiety was taking over my mind and I wasn't sure how and why I had actually decided to bike the marathon route at midnight. But then we arrived at Southborough Station and we walked our bikes to a parking lot close by. Anxiety got replaced by adrenaline as all 230 bikers cheered and began the ride towards the Boston Marathon route.

The starting line of the Marathon was in Hopkington, and we got there around 12:50 p.m. I will not bore you with the it-was-so-amazing-I-want-to-do-it-over-and-over-again details of my (awesome) midnight bike ride; but I will say one thing. YOU SHOULD DO IT. Its one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. Needless to say, it still--after 2 days of its occurrence--feels like a dream.

Anyways, we finished the whole 26 miles around 3:15 a.m. Monday morning and--stupidly--decided to stay awake. I say stupidly because that action made me fall asleep at seven yesterday and I'm not so sure I enjoyed that. But that doesn't mean the bike ride wasn't the best!

Ok, after my personal details, I will now provide you with the easiest tofu recipe ever: Roasted Tofu. I made it yesterday in my tired state and it might be that I was running on no sleep, but I think it tasted amazing! Its perfect for snacking or salad topping.

Roasted Tofu (adapted from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef)

  • 16 oz. extra firm tofu, diced into 1-inch squares
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • S & P
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Season tofu with S & P in a bowl. Pour olive oil over tofu and carefully toss to coat. Make sure not to crumble the tofu.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and tumble tofu over it. Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Flip tofu cubes and roast for 15 more minutes.
  3. Let cool and serve


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lemon-Grilled Pangasius with Radish Sauce

I hard a hard time deciding what to make for dinner tonight. The thing is, I had ingredients left from all the nights I didn't cook this night (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) and recipes waiting to be made. But after thinking it through, I decided to make fish.

There was a recipe in one of my magazines that caught my eye instantly (I have green Post-it that has been on it since day one to prove it): Lemon-Steamed Halibut with Radish Sauce. I couldn't steam it per se since I don't have a steamer or a steamer pot, but I just pan-fried it instead. And let me tell you, it was just as if the recipe called for a pan rather than a steamer.

I won't be blogging much more tonight. One quick thing though, its Saturday, which means I get to chill-out tonight (something much needed after the frantic week I had). It also means that tomorrow is Sunday, the eve of Marathon Monday. Aka, the night I will be biking through the streets of Beantown with my friends!

Ok, enjoy the pictures and try out the recipe!




Lemon-Grilled Pangasius with Radish Sauce (adapted from Cuisine Light)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 8 oz. radishes, sliced into coins
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pangasius fillets, about 5 oz. each
  1. Bring chicken broth, water and shallot to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 2-3 additional minutes. Add radishes and lemon juice and season with salt. Simmer until almost all the juices are evaporated, about 12 minutes. Add butter to the pan and stir until dissolved. Keep warm.
  2. Combine lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Coat each fillet with lemon fillet with lemon zest mixture.
  3. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add fish and cook until white and flaky, about 5 minutes on each side. 
  4. Serve fish over radish sauce.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fresh Made Tortillas Anyone?

Talk about a hectic week: homework assignments, classes, bad comedy show, interviews, etc. And it's not even over yet; it's only Wednesday night. I want to say kill me now, but at the same time not really. I am looking forward to so much this weekend and the weeks ahead.

First of all, Monday is Marathon Monday. For those of you who aren't Beantown residents and don't know what I mean, look it up. I'm just going to say that it's a BIG holiday, even if you're not running the marathon. But this year is extra special because I am biking the Boston Marathon. I'm not actually biking alongside the runners or anything like that, but I am taking a bike at midnight Sunday (once the course is all set up) and riding it out. How exiting is that!?

Anyways, there's also just the weekend. Time to relax? Maybe, but more like time to catch up on all the work I have since it's the end of the semester. I am hoping to get everything done before Easter so that I can enjoy my mini vacation in NYC (I am meeting my mom and sister there for the weekend).

Ok, well enough said about my life, because I really have no energy to write much. I couldn't go to sleep without posting, but I am very tired and tonight is not the night to exploit my writing. So moving onto food, today I made chicken fajitas for dinner. You might be asking yourself why they are not showcased on this post, but I made them for my first article at The Quad (BU's independent online magazine). You'll be able to see my article soon (I hope), but for now, pictures will have to suffice.


I made the tortillas with Maseca, which is an instant corn-tortilla flour. I ordered it online about a week ago and it brightened my morning when it arrived at my doorstep today. The dough itself was very easy to make, but the trickier part was flattening the tortillas without a press. I relied on a heavy fashion book that I bought last year, pressing it over the dough covered in wax paper. But it took a lot longer than I wished it had so I am planning to bring a tortilla press with me next time I go to Mexico.



Monday, April 11, 2011

Scallops with Butter & Wine Sauce

Who would've thought that I, the girl who less than a year ago would shiver at the thought of having to eat seafood, would be cooking scallops for myself. Those who know me well know that up until January 2011 the only type of seafood that I ate was fish (some kinds only) and fried calamari. Yes, my palate was less than gourmandized.

But all that changed with my food challenge. As of this year I decided, as you all know, to expand my culinary skills and indulge a side of me that I never knew existed. So in light of that, tonight I completed another one of my to-do things (expect the list to be posted soon): cooking--and eating for that matter-- scallops.



First of all let me tell you I was nervous. Very nervous. Even though I played the coy card and pretended I was perfectly fine with eating scallops, I was scared I would end up succumbing to the challenge after one bite of my dish. I am proud to say however that this didn't happen.

I enjoyed the scallops. Granted they were drenched in a buttery wine sauce, but I finished all four of them and I can confidently say that I feel ready to eat them again in the future. And even though they won't be appearing here all that much (except for maybe in pastas), I am still very proud of myself.

Scallops with Wine and Butter Sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • S & P
  • 1/2 lb. sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
  1. Season flour with S & P. Roll the scallops in the flour mixture and shake off excess. Heat olive oil in large sauce pan over high heat. Add scallops and cook until browned on both sides and opaque in the center, about 3-4 minutes. Remove scallops from heat and cover with aluminum foil.
  2. In the same sauce pan, add wine and boil until reduced to about 3 tablespoons, scrapping up the brownings. Add oregano and lemon zest and reduce heat to very low. Add butter and stir until just dissolved.
  3. Spoon sauce over scallops and serve with lemon wedges.


I found polenta and broccoli/cauliflower sauté to be a good side dish to my scallops, but I'm sure they would taste delicious with pasta or rice too. 




Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sopa de Tortilla

I never realized how much I missed soup until last night. Soups are one of my favorite dishes, and I don't have them enough here in Boston.

I grew up with large three-course lunches. Soup followed by meat and side, followed by dessert; dinner on the other hand would be just a simple quesadilla or a bowl of cereal. When I came to the US I had to adopt a whole new way of eating, scratch that, I am still trying to adopt it. I am slowly adapting to the small-lunch-large-dinner way of eating, but I still find myself confused when its mid-afternoon and I'm suddenly starving since I had a small lunch. 

Anyways, there's two reasons why I don't have soup as much here as I do at home. First of all, soup takes a while to make. It's not very hard to make, but it takes time and organization. And then there's the fact that I'm not used to having a large dinner. Its weird enough to have a large dish for dinner, and adding soup to the mix just confuses me even more. 

But yesterday I found the solution: soup can be a meal on its own. 

I am happy to say that after my success making tortilla soup yesterday, you will be seeing many more steaming bowl of soup around here from now on.

Ok, so now the specifics. The roomie was craving tortilla soup last night, so I grabbed my How To Cook Everything book and looked it up. Yes, I know I should've just called my mom and asked her for a Mexican recipe instead, but the book was so convenient and it definitely paid off.

The recipe is pretty easy to follow and with a few tweaks it turned out to be just like a traditional sopa de tortilla.

Tortilla Soup (adapted from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)
  • 2 chiles (jalapeno, cayenne or any other depending on how hot you want the soup)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes without core and halved
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot chopped
  • S & P
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Tortilla strips (see recipe below)
  • Cheese and sour cream (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 500 F or turn on broiler. Place chiles and tomatoes on baking sheet and roast until charred. Flip over and roast again, about 15 minutes total (if you don't have a broiler). Remove from oven. Once cooled, remove seed from chiles and chop. 
  2. In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and cook until golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and chiles and season with S & P.
  3. Mash tomatoes with the back of a spoon (wooden preferably) and stir to combine. Add chicken stock and adjust heat so that soup simmers. Cook for about 20-30 minutes while simmering.
  4. Serve hot with tortilla strips, sour cream, and cheese.

Tortilla Strips
  • Corn tortillas (each one yields about 24 strips)
  • Cooking oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Stack tortillas and cut into 1/2 strips. Cut strips again so that they are about 1 - 1 1/2 inch in length.
  2. Place tortilla strips on rimmed baking sheet and spray with cooking oil. Cook in oven for about 10 minutes, shaking and rotating baking sheets halfway through.
  3. Let cool and serve with soup.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tips for the College Student With a Tiny Kitchen

Article first published as Tips For a College Student Cook With a Small Kitchen on Blogcritics.

Now that I have an established readership (or at least I think I do) I thought I would share some of kitchen tips that I have after my first few months of cooking. For those of you following me since the beginning, its been almost three months!!

Anyways, it's hard to cook while you're in college. First of all, after you drag yourself back home from class and up the stairs, cooking might not be the first thing you want to do. For me it's a relaxation method, but I understand those who would rather not have to spend about an hour making dinner.

Then there's the issue of space. Figuring out how to cook several dishes at a time, or even just one elaborate one, is complicated when your counter space is the size of a desk's surface. Even after we bought our rolling kitchen island, I find myself struggling to find somewhere to balance the cooking sheet full of vegetables. Along with this problem comes the issue of appliances. Some are necessary, but others are expensive gadgets. Yes, I would love to have every single one I come across (such as KitchenAid, Cusinart, Martha Stewart tools, etc.), but I know I need to win the lottery in order for that to happen.

Another problem I have come across is what to buy when going shopping. Grocery lists are more complicated than you'd think. How do you know what to buy unless you plan days in advance? Because I don't want to have to go to the store every day, I have to plan a week's worth and buy it at once. But then comes the issue of storage: picture a fridge resembling a puzzle. If you have a small fridge/freezer just like I do, organizational skills are key (but even those won't always save you).

Ok, so how do you solve these problems? There really isn't a better solution than to build yourself a bigger kitchen, but for those of us who can't, here are my tips!


  • Freeze meats to save space and save yourself trips to the grocery store. You're freezer is probably smaller than your fridge, but unless you're stocking up on ice-cream and frozen pizza (which you shouldn't be since I am giving you delicious and easy recipes to make every night) you should have some extra space. Before unpacking anything else, separate the pieces of meat according to your cooking needs and place them in Ziploc bags in the freezer. You'll be set for months, but do remember to defrost in time! There's nothing more annoying than coming home to realize you have a frozen chicken breast waiting to be defrosted under cold running water.

  • Always be aware of what's in the produce drawer and make sure to use it in time. It sucks to have to through out a bunch of asparagus because they went bad by the time you decided to roast them. It also sucks to then have no vegetable side at dinner. It's pretty simple: keep track of your fruits and veggies. Otherwise make sure you dig into that drawer before making any meal to make sure there's nothing that needs to be cooked tonight.
  • Be flexible with your recipes. Like I stated above, there might be times when you have to unexpectedly add vegetables to a recipe. Because of this and because of the fact that sometimes you may not have time or the ingredients for a specific recipe, be flexible. Be ready to modify recipes and make them your own. Plus, you never know when you're going to create a masterpiece.
  • Use your imagination and be practical. There are many kitchen gadgets that I don't own (and you might not either). I'm not referring to the high-tech tools that I mentioned in the beginning; I mean things like a rolling pin. If thats the case, read on:
    • If you're missing a rolling pin, use an empty (and clean) wine bottle. It sounds crazy, but it works very well. I made a delicious pumpkin pie and gingerbread house using Chardonnay bottles to roll out the dough.

    • Use a rimmed baking sheet as "a floured surface." If the dough isn't so much and you can roll it out on a baking sheet, go for it. Its much easier to clean and saves your kitchen from being sprinkled in flour.
    • Use a regular ruler (preferably not the same one that is lying on your desk) to cut perfect scones or crackers. Get straight edges easy. 
  • Get to know your appliances. Yes, you read right: develop a relationship with your oven and fridge; get to know their secrets and cooking will be a lot easier. For instance, I know my fridge freezes near the back, so I know not to stuff it so much. I learned this the hard way after taking out a bag of shredded cheese that looked more like a yellow odd-shaped piece of ice. I also know my oven bakes unevenly. The bottom rack takes cooks quicker than the top; the right outside corner burns often. Again, if you know this in advance, you know when to rotate the baking sheets. 
  • Make a menu for the week. This is what  my mom always had me do at home and I loved it. It does take some time to go through recipes and plan out what to eat for the next few days, but it makes cooking a whole lot simpler. It makes it more fun too. Believe me, just open those cookbooks or magazines and you'll be inspired in no time!
So those are my tips for now, but don't worry, I'll be coming up with other ones soon. In the mean time, get in your kitchen and get cooking! (if you don't have a kitchen, make a request and I'll gladly whip it up for you!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

I have yet to find someone who doesn't like cookie dough. Correct me if I am wrong, but the most exciting part I remember about baking cookies is licking the leftover dough off the spatula. Actually, I also remember making whole recipes solely for the purpose of having frozen cookie dough available any time. The only problem with that, however, was that my mom didn't like the idea of my sister and me eating raw eggs (and now that I think about it, it is quite disgusting).

I never got salmonella, but that is still no reason to eat raw eggs regularly, which is why, when I found this eggless cookie dough recipe, I was very excited. Actually, I was psyched, but I repressed the recipe because of lent.

Yesterday was the perfect night to make them. It was a double birthday night, so what better than a batch of cookie dough truffles to remind us of the joys of childhood (yes, I am still hung up on the fact that I am an adult now). Anyways, the recipe is easy to make, but the hard part is dipping the truffles in the chocolate. It is a messy process, so be prepared to get chocolate all over the place. Make sure you have space in your freezer to stick the truffles in for cooling; and be prepared to enjoy a delicious bite-size dessert.




Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles (adapted from Recipe Girl)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, for melting
  1. Line two baking sheets with waxed paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until creamed. Add vanilla and mix well. Slowly beat in flower, one cup at a time, making sure to combine completely. Add condensed milk and beat until dough forms.
  3. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Cover dough and chill for at least one hour in refrigerator.
  4. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheets. Chill in refrigerator. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in pot over hot water or in the microwave (in 30-second intervals), stirring occasionally.
  5. Dip cookie dough balls in chocolate and place on lined baking sheet. Chill truffles in freezer until hardened and ready to serve.  






Three Cheese Mushroom Crustless Quiche

As of today I am a published writer on Blogcritics, an online magazine stemming from Technorati. How exciting is that? In my efforts to gain more readership and put my journalistic skills to practice, I will write for whoever gives me the opportunity; but this is a great opportunity.

If you haven't already checked it out, go to Blogcritics or Technorati (which is pretty much blog universe). Believe me, you will end up wandering the blogosphere for hours and hours non-stop.

Anyways, here's a snippet version of my article, but for the full version visit it at Blogcritics:

If You Love Quiche

I have been eating quiches for many years. I can’t remember the first quiche I had, but it was most likely the traditional quiche Lorraine. My mother’s side of the family cooks on a daily basis. If it’s not my grandmother making sauces or breads, it’s my aunt baking pies and cookies, or my mom making random recipes she finds appealing. So I’m guessing my mother made the first quiche I ate. Either that, or I had it in France. Anyways, the quiches I have tried since then, have ranged from Lorraine, to Alsacienne (with onions), to peculiar concoctions of cheese and vegetables. So far my favorite has been my aunt’s Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche. It is cheesy and sweet, and her crust is by far the best piecrust I have ever had.

Recently, while browsing the Internet, I came across a ‘crustless quiche’ recipe. I was taken aback because it was in fact a crustless pie. How could someone even think of making a quiche without the crust? I can honestly tell you that every time quiche was made at home I would tear off the extra pieces of crust and snack on them, so the prospect of a crustless quiche didn’t appeal to me at first. But one night I decided to try it.

I wasn’t very hungry and I didn’t have much time to cook. So I did. I made my first crustless quiche and I loved it. It was still fluffy and flavorful. The only difference was that it satisfied my small appetite perfectly. With that I discovered that quiche can be a full meal, crust et al., or the center of a bigger plate. Making crustless quiche opens up more possibilities. Not only can you mix ingredients within the pie, but you can also pair it with pretty much anything.
Every now and again I get the craving for quiche. I have yet to make my own crusted quiche from scratch, but I have done two crustless quiches in the past months, and they were amazing. The most recent one was tonight.

I decided to make a small Three Cheese Mushroom Crustless Quiche after browsing through my fridge. The recipe I got inspired from was a Spinach and Mushroom Quiche I found online, but here is the modified one.

Three Cheese Mushroom Crustless Quiche (adapted from RecipeLand.com)

• Cooking spray
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
• 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar
• 1/2 cup shredded Swiss
• 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• S & P

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
3. In the mean time, beat eggs in a small bowl. Add milk and mix well.
4. Transfer mushrooms to pie dish and spread evenly on the bottom. Sprinkle cheese over mushrooms evenly. Add egg mixture to dish.
5. Cook quiche for 35-40 minutes or until golden and fluffy. Let cool and serve.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Asparagus Tomato & Cheese Fusili

I have been doing internship hunting and job applications all afternoon long (except not really because I found myself procrastinating way more than I usually do). The whole "stumbling" thing is starting to become a serious problem. Nevertheless, it helps my blogging career.

Ok, so the original plan for today was a crispy chicken recipe (one which I will not share today so that I don't spoil a future post), but I forgot that the chicken in my fridge had been there for almost a week. So because of my lack of organization I had to resort to a back-up quick recipe. Pasta.

I need to make it clear that I won't usually make pasta dishes because every time I make one I feel like I am missing something from my dinner. I used to be a pasta lover, but I have realized that it doesn't satisfy me as much as it did before. I end up full but not content. The thing is though that pasta is easy and usually pretty quick. Because of that and the fact that I had tagged several yummy-looking pasta dishes I decided to make some for dinner.

The original recipe was only with asparagus and cheese, but there was a lonely tomato about to go bad in my fridge so I decided to incorporate it.

Asparagus Tomato and Cheese Fusilli (adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 8 oz. uncooked fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced asparagus (about 2 inches long)
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tomato, cubed
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus extra for topping
  • S & P
  1. Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add asparagus and season with S & P. Cook for about 3 minutes or until tender crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep saucepan warm and add chicken broth, onion, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add tomato, asparagus, and cheese. Mix until combined and remove from heat. Serve topped with freshly grated or shave cheese.