Monday, May 30, 2011

Beef & Asparagus Stir Fry

Here's the problem: you never realize what you have until you do not have it anymore. Yes, you have probably heard this a million times, but take a minute of your day to really think about it. Realize that the reason why you probably hear it so much is because it is true.

The past few days have been rough for several reasons (all of which will NOT be disclosed here because they are very personal). But there was also an upside to all of them involving sunshine, friends, running, and cooking.

Unfortunately, I have yet to actually start my internship--I do not count attending a weekly one-and-a-half-hour meeting to mean I have begun working--but a new week has started and summer awaits. Therefore, each day I have with free time will be spent cooking (even if it means loads of leftovers in my fridge).

Here is what I had for dinner tonight.

I had never cooked such an easy and delicious stir-fry. So my advice for those who love asian food, make it.

Beef & Asparagus Stir Fry (adapted from Whole Foods Magazine)

  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 12 oz. flank steak, make sure it is in strips
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 package soba noodles, cooked according to package
  1. In a small bowl, combine first 6 ingredients and mix well. 
  2. Heat a large skillet over high-heat. When hot, add 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil and swirl to coat pan. Add steak strips and cook until brown, about 2 minutes. Remove steak from heat and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, add the rest of the canola oil and swirl to coat pan again. Add asparagus and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add ginger paste, shallot, and pepper flakes and stir-fry 30 more seconds. 
  4. Add steak to skillet and spread ingredients to create a well in the middle. Pour sauce into center of pan and stir. Continue stirring until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir beef and asparagus into sauce to coat.
  5. Serve stir-fry over soba noodles (or rice).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Suddenly Summer is Stepping In

Summer has officially begun in Boston. Heat waves and sunny days have finally decided to give the Beantown population a chance to enjoy the outdoors and take in the fresh air. All the same, my apartment turns into an oven of its own any time I decided to turn on the stove for more than one minute.

I have found that opening the window only makes it that much worse--which only makes me wonder why it is that I have not gotten up to close it yet. Anyways, the summer inspires me to cook fresh recipes; tons of which you will be seeing in the next few weeks (given I have the time to blog while juggling two classes and my internship. Cue excitement!)

Today was not an ordinary day. For starters, I was woken up by my alarm and for once I actually had a very hard time opening my eyes. Consequently, I had to rush through getting dressed and eating breakfast in order to make my passport appointment. Side note, I arrived 15 minutes early (as was told by the appointment person on the phone) only to be turned away by a grumpy receptionist telling me that they would not let anyone in before 9 a.m. I did not appreciate his blunt manner at all.

Nevertheless, by 10 a.m. I was grocery shopping, wondering what goodies I could buy while still being able to carry all the bags home. Unfortunately, the "eyes are bigger than your stomach" idiom applied here perfectly. I found myself struggling with 6 heavy bags walking block after block in hot hot weather.

Ok, enough with the day description. Needless to say, my day was not ordinary, but once I got home I decided to make myself a delicious salad topped with sauteed shrimp.

Sauteed Shrimp with Oranges (adapted from Whole Foods Market Magazine)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 jumbo frozen shrimp, peeled, deveined, and thawed.
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • S & P
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon diced shallot
  • 3 sun-dried tomato halves, cut into strips
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 navel orange, peeled
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. In a separate bowl, toss shrimp with paprika and pinch of S & P. Once oil is hot, add shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes or nicely browned, flipping once. Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.
  2. Add wine, shallots, and sun-dried tomatoes to skillet and boil until liquid is reduced to about half, about 5 minutes. Add broth and reduce to about half, again about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, carefully remove each orange segment from its membrane using a pairing knife.
  4. Turn heat to low and add orange to skillet. Stir in butter and half of the basil. Once butter is melted, add shrimp and toss in sauce. Serve shrimp atop salad, rice, or pasta.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lasagna & Calabacitas

English version coming soon...

Me voy de Mexico manana y ya me dio tristeza dejar mi pais. Me da mucha emocion regresar a mi vida gringa pero a la vez me duele acabar una semana de descanso y felicidad (casi todo el tiempo) en Mexico. Por eso es que decidi hacer este post en espanol.

Primero que nada, no voy a mentir e inventar que la pase bien toda la semana. Hubo momentos de suma aburricion. Momentos en los cuales hubiera dado lo que fuera por cerrar los ojos y encontrarme en Boston en cuanto los volviera a abrir. Pero, y he aqui el detalle importante, valieron la pena las horas de desesperacion  ya que al final de mi vacacion me doy cuenta que disfrute mucho mas de lo que me imagine.

No me voy a hechar un choro pero si quiero mencionar que porfin empiezo a entender que la felicidad depende de las expectativas de cada quien. Y creo que poco a poco estoy aprendiendo a bajar mis expectativas, de tal manera que me siento muy feliz. Ahora si que feliz como una lombriz.

Bueno sigamos a la parte mas importante del blog: la comida. Ayer hice la comida en mi casa. Me comprometi a cocinarle a mi familia y ayer lo cumpli. Hice cupcakes de lasagna y calabacitas asada.

No se espanten, los cupcakes suenan asquerosos, lo se. Pero cuando digo cupcakes de lasagna, me refiero a que son mini-lasagnas en forma de cupcake. No se imaginen un pastel.

Las calabacitas quedaron deliciosas y estan faciles de hacer; los cupcakes tambien son muy sencillos de hacer. Con estas dos recetas, sale una comida deliciosa en poco tiempo.

Cupcakes de Lasagna (Can You Stay for Dinner)

  • 1 cucharada de aceite
  • Media cebolla morada picada
  • 1 shallot chico picado finamente
  • 350 gramos de carne molida (puede ser res o pavo)
  • 3 jitomates picados
  • 400 gramos de pure de tomate
  • 1/4 de taza de apio picado
  • 1/2 cucharadita de albaca seca
  • 1 1/2 cucharaditas de perejil picado
  • 1/4 cucharadita de azucar
  • 1 taza de queso ricotta
  • 1 cucharadita de oregano
  • 24 laminas de wonton
  • Queso manchego o oaxaca rallado 
  • Sal y pimienta
  1. Precalentar el horno a 190 grados centigrados. 
  2. En un sarten grande, freir la cebolla y el shallot a fuego medio hasta que esten bien cocidos, aproximadamente 5 minutos. Agregar la carne y desmoronarla con una cuchara de madera. Cocer bien, moviendo de vez en cuando. 
  3. Una vez que la carne este cocida, agregar los jitomates, el pure de tomate, el apio, la albaca, 1/2 cucharadita de perejil y el azucar. Revolver bien todos los ingredientes hasta que se incorporen. Sazonar al gusto con sal y pimienta. 
  4. Eperar a que hierva la salsa y reducir el fuego. Dejar la salsa cocinar hasta que se reduzca y el jugo se consuma casi por completo, moviendo de vez en cuando, de 15-20 minutos.
  5. Mientras tanto, mezclar el queso ricotta con lo que resta de perejil y el oregano. Sazonar al gusto con sal y pimienta. 
  6. Engrasar un molde de 12 cupcakes. Con cuidado de no romper el wonton, colocar una lamina en cada hueco, presionando para que se pegue abajo y a los lados. Untar una cucharadita de la mezcla de queso ricotta encima de cada lamina de wonton y cubrir con la misma porcion de la salsa. Anadir una cucharadita de queso rallado y cubrir cada cupcake con otra lamina de wonton. Presionar con cuidado para formar una casuelita y repetir el proceso con cada cupcake.
  7. Hornear por 10 minutos o hasta que se doren las laminas de wonton. Dejar reposar por 10 minutos y servir.

Calabacitas Asadas con Vinagre Balsamico (Epicurious)
  • 6 calabacitas en rodajas de 1 centimetro
  • Sal y pimienta
  • 1 cucharadita de aceite de olivo extra virgen
  • 4 cucharadas de vinagre balsamico
  • 1/2 taza de queso parmesano rallado
  1. Prender la parilla del horno.
  2. En un plato mezclar el aceite de olivo con sal y pimienta al gusto. Anadir las calabacitas y revolver hasta que se cubran todas.
  3. Colocar las calabacitas en dos refractarios de de manera que queden en un solo nivel. Cocinar un refractario de calabacitas a 10 centimetros de la parilla por 4-6 minutos o hasta que las calabacitas se empiecen a dorar. 
  4. Rociar las calabacitas con 2 cucharadas de vinagre balsamico y cocinar por 2 minutos mas o hasta que se evapore la mayoria del vinagre. Anadir la mitad del queso parmesano y cocinar hasta que el queso se derrita, aproximadamente un minuto.
  5. Repetir con el otro refracrtario. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


There is one recipe that has been on my to-do list for a while now. Naan.

Ever since the first time I tried it--at an Indian restaurant after school in Aspen while studying--I was hooked. I have to admit I forgot all about it when I moved to Mexico, but then during one Thanksgiving break trip I rediscovered my love for naan.

There is a pretty funny story behind this post. Here is the gist of it. My friend decided to heat up naan as a late night snack. As the rest of us waited in the living room, not exactly knowing what he was doing in the kitchen, he smothered an extreme amount of butter on it. He then appeared into the living room with a plate  of warm naan with no less than a pond of melted butter atop. Needless to say, the snack was disgusting and he was forced to wipe it off with paper towels as the rest of us laughed hysterically.

Since then, naan has become an inside joke for some of us. So this post is in honor of that day and my--or should I say our-- love for naan.

The recipe is very easy and the final product is delicious. Tastes much like the naan I have tried in any of the Indian restaurants I have been to. You can add different spices before cooking it; or keep it plain. Just make sure you have it with butter or olive oil (a decent amount).

Naan (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated Splenda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Water
  • Spices (optional)
  • Oil or butter for serving
  1. In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, Splenda, and salt. Make a well in the middle and set aside.
  2. Place milk in the microwave for about 25 seconds, or until warm but not hot. Combine with yogurt and stir to blend well. Pour half of the milk mixture into the well formed in the dry ingredients. Slowly stir to combine. Keep adding as much milk mixture as needed to form dough (I used almost all of it). Cover dough with a damp towel.
  3. Place a bowl of water in the microwave oven and heat for 30 seconds. Remove bowl and place covered dough in the microwave. Let rest, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours.
  4. After dough has risen slightly, remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes, adding flour is dough is too sticky. 
  5. Separate dough into 8 portions. Roll each piece out until 1/4-inch thick. Season one side with whatever spice you are using and brush other side with water. 
  6. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat and place naan, water-side down. Cover and cook for about 30 seconds or until bubbles appear.
  7. Flip naan and transfer to a low flame, cooking it spices-side down directly over the flame. Cook until slightly charred. Serve warm.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My dream gadget

I cannot begin to explain how nice it was to bake in a spacious and gadget-equipped kitchen with plenty of counter space. I made basic butter cookies. Baked them for my mom who loves snicker doodle cookies (and this recipe is close as I have come to duplicating them). Nothing out of the ordinary. But the big difference was the oven and the KitchenAid electric beater.

If you want to become my favorite person in the world feel free to give me a Kitchen Aid.

I am kidding. I do not expect anyone--other than my parents maybe--to give me something like that. But I do expect to have one in the very near future. It makes cooking significantly easier and it's beautiful. So I will own one soon. Maybe I will have to buy it; maybe it will just appear on my counter one day. Who cares where it comes from, its the perfect addition to any kitchen (especially mine). Just look at it!

Anyways, I will not bore you with more banter about my kitchen wish-list items--although I should probably put them up here in case someone is feeling extremely generous. Here are some pictures I took from tonight's baking. Nothing special; other than the upgraded kitchen of course.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chicken Nuggets

Here is what happened yesterday.

Woke up in Boston and took my last final; in other words, I ended sophomore year of college. Visited the apartment I am going to move into this fall--which also means that now I will have two roommates rather than one, thus I will have to refer to them by name: Amanda and Shirley-- and boarded a plane bound to Mexico City (with a layover in Newark).

You would think that after landing in Mexico at around 10 p.m., I would choose to arrive home and do nothing else than crawl into my queen-sized, and very missed, bed and sleep. But no. I am no ordinary person. I decided to go out.

Literally two hours after landing at Benito Juarez International Airport I was standing in a club waiting to dance the night away. I am not joking. I am also not crazy, just deprived of Mexican night life and since I am only here for ten days, I have to take advantage of every opportunity I have.

I should mention, though, that I was pretty lost. I guess my mind and did not have time to catch up with my fast-paced schedule. I felt as if I were in some sort of dream; except I was awake. Anyways, I had a great time and when I finally crawled under the covers of my comfy bed I was happy as a hippo.

Now onto the food. I did not cook anything since my last post, but I have to confess that the night I made wonton soup I also made chicken nuggets. Bet you did not expect that. I restrained from posting them both at the same time because they are not really the best combo, but here they are  now.

Healthy Chicken Nuggets (adapted from Skinny Taste)

  • 2 large, about 16 oz., skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • S & P
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons whole wheat Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan 
  • Oil spray, olive oil preferably
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a cooking sheet with oil and set aside.
  2. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and season with S & P. Place in a small bowl with olive oil and toss to coat chicken. Set aside to let marinate.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Put a few pieces of chicken into the bread crumbs to coat evenly; then place chicken on baking sheet. Repeat with all the chicken.
  4. Lightly spray chicken with oil and bake for 8-10 minutes. Turn nuggets and bake for 4-5 more minutes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wonton Soup

I have been sick for the past few days. Scratch that. I have been very sick; wanting-to-sleep-all-day-not-caring-about-anything sick. But I also decided I was going to stop complaining. The time will come when I can go about my usual activities once again.

In the mean time, I have been trying to study for finals and waiting for that time Saturday when I get to jump on a plane and land in a different country.

I am going to Mexico and I can't wait! Despite the fact that I am only going for ten days, I plan on making the most of it. There really is no other place in which I feel so at home. Yes, Boston is my home for now--and don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore it--but Mexico City will always be where I feel like everything falls into place. Bear with me through these philosophical statements; sometimes they are much needed.

I am sad about the end of the semester. Sad that sophomore year is over. And sad that I will only have a ten day summer before I return to Terrierland.

But I am also happy that I still have two years left at college (not counting law school). I am happy with my life now. I am very happy with the opportunity that I have discovered in this blog. And I am very happy to be spending a summer in a warm and sunny Beantown.

Oh, and going back to the Mexico topic, sleeping on a queen size bed and driving my bug has never sounded better than it does now.

Tonight's dinner was nothing ordinary. At least not in my book. Another first came from making wonton soup. At my roommate's request I folded wonton wrappers around seasoned ground turkey (had some leftover and decided to substitute for pork).

The recipe is surprisingly easy, but actually making the wontons is the time consuming part. Either way I suggest you try it. It was the first time I had it and it definitely lived up to its expectations.

Wonton Soup (adapted from Joylicious)

  • 8 oz (1/2 lb.) ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon egg whites
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • S & P
  • Cilantro and green onion, chopped, for garnish
  1. Combine ground turkey, egg whites, corn starch, oil, salt, rice vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl. Place about one teaspoon filling on a wonton wrapper and fold in half. Press gently to close and fold flat part a second time. Pinch ends and fold to form a ring. (Here is an easy demonstration courtesy of Recipe Tips)
  2. In a large pot, boil about 5 cups of water and drop wontons in. Work in batches so as not to crowd the wontons. Cook wontons until the rise to the surface, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring chicken stock to a boil in a separate pot. Season with S & P. Serve soup with wontons and garnish.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shrimp Salad & Potato Side

The problem with blogging during finals is that I do not study. I keep telling myself, if you cook now, then you will have time to study later. But when later comes around, all I want to do is post the pictures of what I had for dinner. When that is done, I want to figure out what recipe I should make for tomorrow. And so a vicious cycle of food blogging takes over my afternoon study time.

I am so ready for it to be summer already. Yes, I am going to be taking classes for a month, and yes, I will be interning at Gatehouse Media; but I will also be enjoying the warmth (sometimes exaggerated heat) of a Boston summer. By this I mean going running every morning, walking around the city dressed in skirts and flowy dresses, and enjoying my roof-deck to the fullest!

But before the summer arrives, I have yet to pass (and ace) two exams. And I also have to cook my way through this week. 

Now that spring weather is actually here and the days are getting sunny and warm--with the exception of those horrible rainy days--, I have had cravings for fresh dishes. That means fruits and vegetables; and more vegetables. But I also find seafood perfect for spring or summer dishes. 

So last night I decided to make a shrimp salad. It was similar to a ceviche, but with less of a seafood flavor (which certainly makes it more appetizing for me). As a side, I made a crispy potato dish at my roommate's request. 

Let me just say thanks to my roommate for peeling the potatoes. She did the arduous job of preparing the ingredients for what turned out to be quite a delicious dish (if you like potatoes at least). Anyways, I wouldn't necessarily pair these dished together for a dinner, but I wanted to try out the shrimp salad and Amanda wanted the potatoes, so in the name of practicality, I made both.

Zesty Shrimp Salad (adapted from Skinny Taste)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined, chopped into 3 parts
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, without seeds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • S & P

  1. In a small bowl, combine onion, lime juice, and olive oil. Season with S & P and let sit for at least 5 minutes to mellow onion flavor.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix shrimp, avocado, and tomato. Add jalapeno and cilantro along with onion marinade. Toss to combine and season with S & P. Serve cold.

Crispy Potato Roast (adapted from Martha Stewart)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 shallots, thickly sliced lengthwise
  • S & P
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes 
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. Brush baking dishes (I used two 4-cup Pyrex containers; but if you double the recipe you can work with a bigger round dish) with butter mixture.
  2. Slice potatoes thinly crosswise, using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler. Arrange potatoes in baking dish, packing them close together so they stay vertical. Wedge shallots in between potatoes and sprinkle pepper flakes over potatoes. Brush potatoes with remaining butter and oil.
  3. Bake potatoes for about 75 minutes. Add thyme sprigs and return potatoes to oven until cooked through and crisp, about 30 minutes more.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Steak Salad

So I have been away from my kitchen lately. Its not that I have no recipes to motivate me--I actually have a constantly-growing bookmarking tab with all types of recipes waiting to be cooked--its just that with the end of the semester and finals coming soon, I feel like I should be studying 24/7.

I still don't though. I have to confess I was laying in my bed stumbling through cooking blogs for a large chunk of today. Although I guess I was ultimately working towards the blog.

Anyways, here is the recipe for tonight's dinner.

Steak Salad (adapted from Special K)
*The quantities are subjective, since some people like vegetables more than steak (cough cough, me), but others like meat more.
  • Green beans, blanched
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Mixed greens
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 8 oz. boneless sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Combine green beans, tomatoes, and mixed greens in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with S & P. Whisk to incorporate as much as possible and add to salad. Toss to mix.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cumin, salt, and pepper. Rub steaks with seasoning. 
  3. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Cook steaks until cooked to taste (I did about 9 minutes), flipping occasionally.
  4. Once cooked, slice steak into 1-inch strips and serve over salad. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.