Sunday, February 17, 2013

90 days

Aaaaand we have more snow. It feels like just yesterday, I was rolling around in Nemo snow, but apparently it’s been a week. Time flies huh?

Can you believe I’ve been a working gal for more than a month now? Because I certainly can’t. It’s still mind boggling to think that graduation is 90 days away. This is it. This is really the last stretch—said every college student nearing graduation.
As my college life is coming to an end, my life is in a state of chaos—yet again someone everyone say, but I mean it. I’ve blogged about my confusion as to how I plan to continue my life, and I’ve complained about the plethora of opportunities and the lack of decisions (on my part). What I haven’t mentioned is that my social life is also undergoing a huge transition.
Lately I find myself conflicted about weekend plans and outings. What used to be an easy “Oh I’ll just go to this place with these people,” has flipped over into “what am I supposed to do now?” Unfortunately there are certain places that I would rather stop frequenting—ahem Tavern; and others that although entertaining, don’t measure up to my idea of going out. So often I find myself caught between the appeal of staying at home and the terrorizing fomo.

That said, if anyone is going through anything similar (or has gone through) and has a suggestions for me, please share your wisdom. But for now, I’ll share my recipes.
Thursday I was getting ready to make a recipe I found in a magazine, but then I realized it involved a slow-cooker. Yep, I completely forgot to read the instructions and missed the point. Well before I could start freaking out about dinner, my roommate Baroqueness Monster randomly suggested I make burritos. Coincidentally, I had just bought tortillas and burritos, for once, sounded appetizing to me.
So I threw a quick turkey and tomato picadillo (hash) and wrapped with a wheat tortilla. Boom! I had a delicious Mexican-inspired meal. The recipe is really easy and I would recommend playing around with it—add some mushrooms, different peppers, chicken, etc. If all else fails, just pop a cheese-filled tortilla into the microwave for 30 seconds and enjoy a quesadilla!

Turkey Tomato Burritos
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 35 minutes.
Makes 4-6 servings
·         1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
·         ½ red onion, finely chopped
·         1 can diced tomatoes
·         1 can tomato sauce
·         1 lb. lean ground turkey
·         3 bell peppers, sliced (I used red, but other colors would make the burritos more colorful!)
·         1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
·         10 whole wheat flour tortillas (regular size)
·         ½ cup cilantro leaves
·         Shredded cheese (optional)

1.       Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
2.       Add ground turkey to tomato mixture and lower heat to medium again. Cook until almost all liquid is consumed and turkey is fully cooked, about 10 minutes.
3.       In a separate pan, heat the remaining teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add peppers and cook until slightly browned and tender, 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4.       Remove peppers from pan and return to heat. Bring heat down to low and warm up tortillas, one at a time, placing in pan for 1 minute. Keep tortillas warm by wrapping them in a kitchen towel.
5.       To assemble burritos, place a tortilla flat on a plate and add the turkey. Top with peppers and a small bunch of cilantro leaves. Add cheese if desired.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sweet & Salty

I'm sitting here gorging myself with chocolate-covered raisins from Costco, thinking about the day when my sweet tooth will finally disappear. But really it's never going to happen. And I'm ok with that.

I usually crave sweets day and night, but on some days savory stuff creeps into my mind. On other days, I crave both sweet and salty, and either I eat both or I can't fall asleep.

Well today was one of those days, so I decided to cook some tofu and collard greens; then I decided to eat raisins for dessert.

This recipe for tofu is delicious--and healthy I'm sure--and easy to make. It also doubles as a salad topper, so my lunch for tomorrow is set! Enjoy!

Sautéed Tofu with Bitter Greens (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 75 minutes.
Makes 4-6 servings.

  • One (1 lb.) block extra-firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon diced shallots
  • 2 lbs. bitter greens (like collard or mustard), washed and trimmed
  1. cut tofu in half lengthwise, then cut each piece into 6 slices. Place tofu in-between four sheets of paper towels (two on top and two below) and on a plate; cover with another plate. Place a can of beans or soup on top and chill for 30 minutes, or until paper towels soak moisture.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, oil, Sriracha, lime juice, ginger and shallots. Place tofu in a large Ziploc bag and add half of the marinade. Toss gently to coat and chill for another 30 minutes. 
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet or wok over medium heat. Working in batches, cook tofu in a single layer until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining tofu. Keep pan and gradually add greens with the remaining marinade. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 5-8 minutes. Serve with tofu.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Of Nemo and Slush

I saw a friend's status today and it read something like this "Friday: SNOW DAY! ... Yeah!
Saturday and Sunday: Snow forts, snow ball fights, snow football. THIS IS AWESOME! Monday: ... I hate snow." 
I agree with him 100%. The weekend and its 2+ feet of snow was fun and exhilarating--mainly Friday night's huge snowball fight and Saturday's running through the deserted streets. Nemo brought me back to my days in Aspen when I would dream of snow days and epic powder on the mountain. It reminded me of the beauty of a snow-blanketed city and the unique smell of fresh snow. And most importantly, it made it clear that it is still winter--one of my favorite seasons.

But come Monday, the city has turned into a slushy chaos with half-cleared lanes and calf-deep puddles. Its a pain for pedestrians, bikers and drivers--I can't even imagine what it's like for public transportation workers. 

This morning, as I was leaving for work, it took me five tries and a quasi-freakout to drive Bruce (my car) out of the parking lot. And when I got back I almost cried when I scraped the front of it with a snow bank (believe me, it was almost impossible not too). Now I'm cringing at the thought of having to drive tomorrow when the slush turns to ice.

So in all honesty I have to admit that today I hate snow and all things Nemo.

But on a happier note, while stuck at home on Friday I decided to bake Challah bread. It was long, but easy and worth the work. The bread itself turned out sweet and fluffy, just the way it was supposed to. So if you're craving a warm loaf of Challah, try this recipe and enjoy!

Challah (adapted from Epicurious)
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: about 5 hours.
Makes 1 1/2 pound loaf.
  • 1 envelope (7 gr.) instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 large eggs + 1 for glazing
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling

  1. In a large bowl whisk together yeast and 3/4 cup bread flour. Slowly whisk in warm water. Let sit for about 20 minutes or until fermented and puffed up.
  2. Whisk the 2 eggs, oil, salt and sugar into the yeast mixture until eggs are well incorporated and salt and sugar are dissolved. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the remaining 3 cups flour at once. When dough is shaggy, transfer to work surface and knead until soft, no more than 10 minutes.
  3. Clean and soak the mixing bowl in hot water; dry and place the dough inside the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Let rise until doubled in size, 1:30-2 hours.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Split the dough into 3 equal parts and roll out into 2-inch thick ropes. Carefully braid the bread, using water to stick the ends together. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and leave to rise for another 1-1:30 hours, or until doubled in size again.
  5. Half hour before baking, arrange oven racks into lower and upper thirds and preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, beat remaining egg for glazing. 
  6. When loaf have grown and do not push back when pressed gently with your finger, brush with egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  7. Cook loaf for about 40 minutes, or until browned. If it seems to be browning too quickly, tent bread with foil. Once baked, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Of Opening Acts and Quinoa Burgers

Raise your hand if you genuinely enjoy opening acts. Yeah, that's what I thought.

I'm sorry but when I pay $50+ to watch my favorite band/artist perform, I don't appreciate having to wait close to two hours on my feet. When a ticket says "show at 7," I expect to see the band/artist I paid for at 7--give or take a half an hour.

That being said, some openers are an exception to my complaint. If the act is relevant, lasts somewhere between four and six songs and is actually good--I've had my share of screams coupled with instruments pretending to be music--then I'm ok with it.

For example, yesterday at the Mumford & Sons concert, there were two opening acts. Mistake number one: two opening acts are not ok. If I want to see an array of bands then I'll go to a music festival. But let's put that aside for a second and analyze the acts separately. The first opener, Ben Howard, was good. He has a soft and enjoyable voice that I would guess appeals to the Mumford crowd. And his set lasted about twenty minutes, so it was a great introduction to the main act.

But the second act, The Felice Brothers, was long and somewhat irritating. There were three things that bothered me the most. First of all, if you're going to open for a band like Mumford, do not come out drunk and high, it makes you sound terrible. Also, please do not play songs that seem to be improvised--or if you do, make sure it works. Finally, if you're playing right before Mumford, do not play for more than 45 minutes!

Ok, I'm done venting. Now let me just say that the actual concert was amazing! Mumford & Sons is all I could think about today. If you ever have a chance to attend their concert, go!

Anyways, tonight I made quinoa burgers. In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect, but turns out, they were quite tasty. If you have them in pita bread, just make sure you warm it up before serving. Enjoy!

Greek-style Quinoa Burgers (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Active time: 35 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.

  • 12 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 15 oz. great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain on-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 4 pitas
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced diagonally
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add quinoa and lower heat; cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. 
  2. In a food processos, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add quinoa, half the cilantro leaves, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pulse mixture until combined but slightly chunky. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 10 minutes.
  3. Form mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook burgers until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes on each side.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice and remaining cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Place pita bread in a convection oven set to 300F and warm up, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Serve burgers in pita topped with cucumber and yogurt sauce.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Day After The SuperBowl

So let's talk about last week. Monday was miserable and Tuesday was too; Wednesday was not too bad; Thursday was hot and Friday was cold. What do they all have in common? I was sick on every one of them.

Then there's Sunday and Monday. Both cold, both tiring, but most importantly both disappointing sports-wise.

This year I decided to start following football. Even though it was late in the season--and the only reason I became interested was the fact that the Pats were still playing--I was excited to be a part of the All-American craze. I even bought a six pack of hard cider so I would have a beer-like bottle to hold while I sat on my couch yelling at the TV (for those of you who are laughing, I actually love hard cider). Anyways, yesterday was the first time I was watching the SuperBowl because of the game and not just for the ads and the halftime show--which by the way were both disappointing; it was also the first time I genuinely cared about the winner/loser. So yeah, I was irritated when the 49ers missed that last touchdown.

Then tonight, I turn on the TV just in time to see the last period of the BU-Northeastern Beanpot game. And guess what? BU lost. Ugh, there goes my Boston sports pride.

I'm kidding. I'll remain an avid Pats and Terriers fan. I even promise to follow the next football season wholly.

But in other news, here's what I had for dinner.

This dish is simple and relatively quick. According to Martha Stewart, it's also healthy; and according to my taste buds, it's delicious. So next time you want a non-traditional tomato pasta dinner, give this recipe a try.

Spinach Pasta with Spicy Tomato Salmon Sauce (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes
Makes about 4 servings.

  • 8 oz. spinach fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1  8 oz. salmon fillet
  • 1 lb. roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to box instructions and drain. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and keep warm.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add oregano, red pepper flakes and salmon. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, break up salmon as it cooks. 
  3. Stir in tomatoes and white wine; bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange a bed of pasta on each plate and serve topped with sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese before eating.