Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DIY Pizza

Here's my problem. I find myself bored and unmotivated often these days, but then I get bouts of inspiration at the worst possible times. It is a vicious cycle.

I keep telling myself that I must find something to keep me going. Yes, I have my blog--and don't get me wrong, it is an everyday motivator--but it is very hard to keep it up when I am only cooking for one. Now that Maricarmen left (this morning), I find myself food-bored once again. I can't cook elaborate dishes and I  get sick of eating the same things over and over again.

On the other hand, I am a journalism intern and that means I have many articles waiting to be written. But honestly, sometimes I just wish I could drop all my stories and cook a banquet. A banquet that I could proceed to eat without ever getting full!

Anyways, in the days to come, with summer classes ending and stories due, I will not be cooking that much. Meals will probably be the easiest possible dishes I can put together. But after that...

For now, enjoy the second pizza dish using the leftover dough from Wednesday. The other basic recipe for pizza is below.

To assemble the pizza:

  1. Roll out dough to desired thickness.
  2. Coat dough with olive oil, using spray or a cooking brush.
  3. Spread tomato sauce over pizza.
  4. Sprinkle pizza with desired toppings.
  5. Cook pizza in  preheated oven at 500F for about 10-15 minutes.

Easy Tomato Sauce (adapted from How To Cook Everything)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds canned tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • S & P
  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large deep skillet. Once hot, add onion and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until slightly tender. 
  2. Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil. Season with oregano and S & P. Cook sauce, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until reduced to desired consistency.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lime-Shallot Butter Shrimp

The last 5 days have been tricking my mind into thinking that I am on vacation. As if the fact that Maricarmen is here is challenging to imagine in the first place, add touristy activities and days starting at noon, and you have me confused about my Beantown citizenship.

Like I mentioned above, our days have consisted of late breakfasts, some local activities (mainly enjoying frozen yogurt on an almost daily basis), and a whole lot of talking. The weekend was devoted to fun, with a bout of tourism on Sunday. We went to Cambridge yesterday and walked all around the Harvard and MIT campuses. I now know what the two most famous Boston college campuses look like..

Today we went to Quincy Market since, after days of rain and cold, today was finally a nice day--which basically meant that we had to be outside. That and the fact that Maricarmen would never forgive me if she left Boston before going to Quincy.

Anyways, this recipe was really meant to be posted a few days ago--yes, I know I have been slacking on my blog posts. But better late than never. Here is a delicious shrimp recipe that can be whipped up in less than a half an hour, but still impress your palate.

Lime-Shallot Butter Shrimp (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white whine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • S & P
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 - 1 pound large frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime peel
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped chives
  1. Boil shallot, vinegar and wine in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce mixture until it is less than 1/4 cup, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat and add butter, one piece at a time, stirring until each piece is completely melted.
  2. Remove butter mixture from heat and stir in lime juice. Season with S & P and cover to keep warm.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with S & P to taste. Saute shrimp until bright pink, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.
  4. Serve shrimp topped with lime-shallot butter. Garnish with lime peel and chives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pizza for Dessert

Heads up, there are many pictures in this post. What can I say, I just could not abstain from sharing every little piece of this delectable dessert.

My friend Maricarmen is here for the week. Which means that there is finally more than one person eating my food (that one person being me). It also means that I am bound to make good recipes.

Today was not a day to be outside. Unlike the beginning of the week, which was sunny and bright, today was rainy and gray. And even though all I really wanted to do was stay home and do absolutely nothing, grocery shopping was a must.

So after a quick lunch at Scoozi (my make-shift diner in Boston) and a yummy fro-yo, my friend and I ventured to Shaws. An hour and a half later, we were back home, wet and grossed out by the humidity. But it was well worth the trip.

I have to say this dish deserves more than just a simple blog post (hence the amount of pictures). If you have not tried dessert pizza, you must do so soon. And by soon I mean tomorrow!

This recipe is very easy and the end product is a delectable dessert that really is the lick-your-fingers-and-scrape-the-plate type.

Pizza Dough (adapted from How To Cook Everything)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast and salt. Slowly add water and oil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Stir until dough becomes slightly sticky, adding more water if needed. If dough becomes too sticky, which it shouldn't, add flour a tablespoon at a time.
  2. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. Push bottom of hands into the dough and pull back, then push knuckles into dough and repeat. 
  3. Transfer dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure that wrap is not too tight. Let rise for about 2 hours (or overnight) or wrap dough in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Nutella, Strawberry & Banana Pizza

  • 1/2 recipe pizza dough (see above)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 3 strawberries, sliced lengthwise
  • 12 banana, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 500 F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. 
  2. Place dough on a floured surface and roll out until about 1/4-inch thick (dough will rise) or desired thickness. Transfer dough to baking sheet carefully. Fold sides and pinch to create a border and let sit for about 20 minutes.
  3. Bake dough for 13-15 minutes, or until crust is golden. While dough is hot, carefully spread Nutella over pizza. Let cool, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Arrange strawberries and bananas, or other sliced fruit, on the pizza. Slice and serve.
*Optional: sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top of the pizza before serving.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shrimp with Fennel and SD Tomatoes

I have been slacking in the kitchen lately, but let me tell you, cooking for one is no fun at all. The thought of having to eat the same dish every single night simply does not motivate me to cook. Hence why I have been cooking simple recipes (and goodies that I have been craving) once or twice a week.

I promise I will try to change this; especially since I will be done with classes in less than two weeks. Fingers crossed I will have a job by then, but either way I am going to make myself fall back into a foodie schedule. July will consist of, hopefully, at least four posts a week.

On a different note, this weekend was lovely. Despite the fact that I had to bust out five long answer questions and a 1000-word essay for my history take-home exam, and study for my calculus exam, I found myself really happy. I am sure the weather had a lot to do with it. My good mood just seems to get better and better though. I do not know what it is that is making me have a new outlook on life, but it's working. Knock on wood and hope it sticks for more than a week.

So, enough said, here is the recipe for my dinner last night. Once again I was craving shrimp. I think the reason is that a) shrimp are deliciously fresh b) they make a perfect light dinner and c) they are quick to prepare and easy to cook.

Shrimp with Fennel and Sun-dried Tomatoes (adapted from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (substitute for flavored olive oil such as Basil-infused is available)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced crosswise
  • S & P
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add fennel and cook for about three minutes, or until slightly tender. Season with S & P.
  2. Add tomatoes and shallot and cook for one more minute, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Season shrimp with S & P. Add shrimp and cook. While shrimp are cooking, add rosemary and stir so that it is incorporated evenly. Cook shrimp until slightly pink, one minute on each side. Remove from heat and serve.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Squash & Walnut Muffins

You know that feeling when all you want is a fresh muffin to go with a steaming cup of coffee for breakfast? That was me this morning.

But after sleeping barely five hours, I wanted food in my belly and I wanted it quick. No time for muffin baking. I had an omelette instead and yes a steamy cup of black coffee.

The craving for muffins did not die though. I found myself unsatisfied, which is why I decided that I was making muffins for lunch. Or at least for dessert.

Another reason to make them was that the summer squash in my fridge was about to go bad. Oh, and the fact that if I baked muffins today, I could have my coffee muffin breakfast tomorrow morning! Its a win win win situation.

So brief recap on my life since last post. Still writing and taking classes. Went to an amazing concert on Thursday: the WFNX Clam Bake. Unfortunately, I had to leave after the Naked and Famous because math class awaited; but I got to see TNAF, Young and the Giant (loving it now) and DOM.

Also, I got another guitar pick for the collection on the back of my Blackberry. And this one was thrown directly at me! Yes, the guitarist--very sexy guy I should mention--looked me in the eye, smiled and tossed me his bright yellow pick!

Anyways, here is the recipe for these yummy muffins. And you can substitute the squash for other fruits or vegetables that you might have lying around.

Squash & Walnut Muffins (adapted from How to Cook Everything)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small squares
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (can be regular milk or soy milk)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup grated summer or yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients.
  2. Add butter to dry mix and mix with your hands. Gently press butter so that small pea-sized pieces remained and butter is well incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk and lemon zest. Add liquids to the dry mix and combine just to moisten. Do not stir too much. Fold in squash and walnuts to batter carefully.
  4. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a muffin. Let muffins cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Organic Bistro Review

Article first published as Organic Bistro Meals: Savory and Nutritious on Blogcritics.

A while ago, I received some coupons for an Organic Bistro Frozen Meals review. Despite the fact that I am not a very big fan of frozen pre-made dishes--lets face it, it pretty much obliterates my blog--I found the dish to be quite good in flavor. The price is not bad and nutrition wise, it is about the best there is when talking about frozen meals.

Here is my review!

Organic Bistro Meals: Savory and Nutritious

Frozen meals have been available for several years now. From fast food options to healthy options, it seems the market for ready-made meals is ever growing. This is great for many reasons; but mainly due to the fact that any people now live lives so fast for which they have no time to cook.

For some, there is always time to make a meal; otherwise, they make time to cook. On the other hand, there are those who come home from work or school finding themselves with a grumbling stomach and no intention to put together a balanced meal. Consequently, a problem arises: most people turn to take out or fast food delivery to satisfy their appetites. Without realizing that there are other alternatives to cooking, food delivery can become a daily routine for many people; a routine that more often than not 
leads to unbalanced nutrition.

What happens when you add celiac disease or a wheat allergy to the mix? You get people with little time or desire to cook and a complication with gluten. Enter Organic Bistro meals.

Even if you are in no need for a gluten-free meal, Organic Bistro’s healthy frozen meals offer the perfect option for that one, or several, times when you have no intention of preparing a meal. Boasting organic and nutrient-rich ingredients, Organic Bistro meals range from Pasta Puttanesca to Alaskan Salmon.
For chicken lovers, there is one dish deserving a recommendation. The Ginger Chicken meal brings together the tangy flavor of ginger with the freshness of green beans. The sweet-and-savory combination pairs rice pilaf perfectly with the right amount of chicken and veggies. Fulfilling nutritional needs and pleasing your taste buds, this meal will leave you anxious to try the rest of the bowls.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Healthy Snacking!

Saturday was quite the adventurous day. I am not joking, just keep reading and you'll find out why.

First of all, I woke up and had delicious queso fundido. Its just melted cheese from the mcirowave, but this was with authentic Oaxaca cheese. Yes, I did bring some from Mexico, and yes I have been eating it lately since I do not want it to go bad.

So anyways, after breakfast, I just bummed around for a bit (it was gross weather outside). Then, after giving it much thought, I decided to make one of the biggest purchases of my life. I bought a NEX-3 Sony compact camera.

Quite an investment let me tell you, but so far I am loving it and I think it was good use of my money. That was adventure number one of the day: spending a chunk of my life savings on a gadget.

Then, I came home, went about my day normally and hoped that the rain stopped before the NKOTBSB concert at Fenway Park. It kind of did, at least for a while.

Now here comes the start of the not so cool adventures. As I am leaving to the concert, I decide to run back to switch my sweater for a trench coat-- quite a stupid decision let me tell you because if I was about to switch my sweater for something that would help if it rained, a hoodless trench coat was not it-- and I forget my keys inside of the apartment.

Forgetting my keys when my roommate is not here had been my GREATEST fear for quite a while. I know the consequences are not so bad (I have tons of friends with places I could crash), but I am OCD, and it really does make me angry to forget my keys. Anyways, I ended up making it back into my apartment in time to go out and enjoy the rest of my Saturday night.

So despite everything that happened this weekend, I managed to maintain some normality: cooking and writing pieces for my internship. I made two simple sides that also happen to be very healthy. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Fries (adapted from Hungry Girl)

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Cooking spray
  • S & P
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Cut off the ends of the squash and slice in half widthwise. Peel butternut squash. Cut bottom half lengthwise and spoon out the seeds.
  3. Cut butternut squash into 1/2 inch wide spears and pat with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Lay spears over paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 5 minutes and pat again.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil and distribute spears evenly. Sprinkle with S & P.
  5. Bake fries for 40 minutes, carefully flipping them over halfway through.

Braised Celery (adapted from How To Cook Everything)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 .5 lbs. celery, trimmed and sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • S & P
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook celery for about 2 minutes. Season with S & P. 
  3. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Place skillet in the oven and cook until almost all the liquid is evaporated and celery is very tender, about 15 minutes. If liquid evaporates before celery is tender, add more stock.
  4. Serve with chopped parsley as garnish.