Saturday, July 3, 2010

homemade tzatziki!

yet again, the beautiful islands are calling my name. i just ordered the culinaria:greece cookbook which is absolutely magical. i spent all day reading it and couldn't resist whipping up a little greek magic in the kitchen!!

this tzatziki (say it with me: zaaaht-zee-kee) is perfect on toasted pita bread. and it's easy to make!

1/2 of a cucumber
1 serving (6 oz) of plain Greek yogurt
1/2 of a lemon
1 garlic clove, mashed or diced finely
dash pepper
dash salt
2 tbsp olive oil, the darker the better

wash the cucumber and slice it in half. scrape out the seeds and dispose them. grate the cucumber into a bowl. squeeze the cucumber pieces to get rid of the juice- you want the tzatziki to be as thick as possible, not runny.

add the yogurt (thicker the better) to the cucumber and mix. add juice from the lemon (careful about the seeds!), the garlic, pepper, and salt.

when you're ready to serve, drizzle the olive oil on top and enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

rosemary ranch chicken kabobs

these kabobs produce tender, fragrant chicken. great with a light salad or with rice and steamed broccoli.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (or dried)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6-8 skewers

marinade: stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. let stand for 5 minutes. place chicken in the bowl, and stir to coat with the marinade. cover and refrigerate for an hour.
preheat the grill (i used a george foreman style indoor grill). thread about 5 pieces of chicken onto each skewers and discard marinade.
grill skewers for 8 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear. serves 5-6. 

*adapted from

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

oatmeal peanut butter cookie sandwiches


doesn't this little guy look delectable? i was craving peanut butter today and that reminded me of an oft-told story about my failed attempt at making peanut butter balls. sophomore year of college, when i first started trying to cook things, i was elated at the success of the first meal i cooked for a group, (fettuccine alfredo with broccoli and garlic bread) and thought, why not try my hand at desserts next? how about peanut butter balls? ha. did you know that there are multiple kinds of sugar? okay, sure, brown,, there is more than one kind of white sugar! confectioner's sugar is not the same as granulated sugar. here is the first lesson i ever learned about cooking. confectioner's sugar IS powdered sugar. white, powdery, you get the idea. anyway, i didn't know that then. and so, i mixed all the ingredients together, which formed....a giant sandstorm. nothing stuck together! so i thought i'd be clever and make it into a cake. nope. still didn't stick together; in fact it was more like a giant sand dune after that! 

--> feasting fact - PEANUT BUTTER:
it's awesome.

oatmeal peanut butter cookies
bowl 1 (large):
1/2 c. butter, softened (zap in the microwave until squishy, it's ok if some melts)
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur; if you don't have any, use more vanilla)
1 egg

bowl 2 (just for mixing the dry items before adding to the above):
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

"bowl" 3
1.25 c. dry instant oatmeal (like Quaker, etc.)

cream the items under bowl one together, except add the egg last after mixing everything else first. beat until creamy.

now, mix all the dry ingredients in bowl two together and pour into bowl one. use a spoon or spatula to mix rather than using the beater. stir well, then add the oatmeal. mix it up really well! it should be a nice, fluffy consistency that isn't too sticky. i really liked working with this dough.

heat the oven to 350. now, take a spoon and drop small chunks onto nonstick baking pans. keep the sizes pretty small (smaller than ping pong balls). then press each with a fork once to flatten. bake for exactly 9 minutes until light brown. they will look airy when you take them out but after about two minutes they set nicely. let cool, and meanwhile, make the sandwich filling below!

sweet peanut butter filling
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 c. confectioner's sugar (aka powdered!)
1/3 c. peanut butter
3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp vanilla

cream all of this goodness together with a mixer. now, the cookies should be hardened. pick two that are the same size, spread some of the filling on, and squish them together to make sandwiches! if you are big on presentation, gently place the second cookie on top with a circular motion- that will get the filling to spread evenly to the edges. :) makes 50 cookies, or 25 sandwiches. 

*recipe adapted from this website. just modified some of the amounts and added a little amaretto to kick up the flavor. also, starting now i am taking these pictures as i bake, so hopefully that will add a little color and make the food look even am i hungry for one of these RIGHT NOW.

Monday, June 28, 2010

bbq chicken pizza

would you believe that you can get away with using NO tomato sauce at all on a pizza? ok, ok, some would call it a crime...but i call it delicious. 

bbq chicken pizza
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or diced
premade pizza crust
bbq sauce
3/4 red bell pepper
2 green onions
cheddar cheese

spread bbq sauce over the entire pizza. add bell pepper and chicken. top with cheddar cheese and green onions. bake at 350 for about 12 minutes!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

black bean & cheddar soup

so i bought this bag of dried black beans the other day hoping to kick start some healthier eating. i was trying to figure out what to do with them and decided to try making a soup. i've never used dried beans before, so a few things were new to me. first of all, you have to rinse them and take out any deformed or messed up beans. then, you have to spend at least 2 hours getting them to a somewhat mushy consistency. so this soup is best in a slow cooker or at least when the beans are prepared earlier in the day.

around lunchtime, i added 1.5 cup of dried black beans to a pot, and added hot (not cold) water to cover them about 2 inches above. bring the water to boiling on the stove, and let boil for 5 minutes. then remove from heat and cover with lid until 1 hour before i was ready to eat dinner. keep the water in the pot. then i added the rest:

black bean & cheddar soup
1.5 cups dried black beans, cooked as per above
1/2 cup cream of celery condensed soup
1/3 cup salsa (i used salsa verde)
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
bag cheddar cheese, grated
a few green onions, chopped into small pieces

heat a burner to medium-high on the stove, and return the beans to the heat in the pot they are already in. add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese and green onions. bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes. top with a generous heap of cheddar cheese and a few pieces of green onion. you can also use sour cream. makes about 8 servings.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

chicken & bell pepper tostadas

sour cream sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1.5 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 of a lime 
1 garlic clove, minced

combine ingredients at least an hour ahead of time and refrigerate, covered. 

2 avocados
1/8 cup tomato, diced
1 tbsp sour cream
juice of 1/2 of a lime
garlic salt

mash avocado in a medium bowl. mix in the rest of ingredients. make right before cooking tostadas.

chicken tostadas:
6 yellow corn tortillas
3 chicken breasts, shredded
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored, and flattened
1 yellow or green bell pepper, seeded, cored, and flattened
1 poblano pepper, seeded, cored and flattened
1/4 cup onion, diced
bag shredded cheddar cheese

2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1/2 of a lime
dash salt
1/4 tsp pepper

line a baking sheet with foil and toast the tortillas in the oven until crispy. (about 10 minutes at 350 degrees).

on the same baking sheet, lay the peppers, outside skin side up, on top. broil for a few minutes until blackened. then cover in a bowl with saran wrap for a few minutes. this will make the outer skin easier to peel off.

while the peppers cook, mix the sauce: olive oil, garlic, lime, salt and pepper. add shredded chicken and onions and toss to coat well. once the peppers are done, dice them and add to the mix.

heat oven to 400 degrees. now, lay the tortillas on a baking sheet and top each with some of the chicken mixture. layer on some of the sour cream mixture. then top with as much cheese as desired. toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortillas are toasted.

taken from this fantastic website, except my recipe for guacamole! serve on the side with chips.

Monday, June 14, 2010

greek style kabobs

we were looking for a quick meal for a hot summer day, and decided to put together some basic greek ingredients together for an easy marinade. 

greek style chicken kabobs
4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1 cup olive oil (depending on preference- put in enough to cover the chicken) 
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp pepper
1 tsp salt
vegetables to grill- i used 1 onion and 1 green bell pepper, cut into cubes

mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings in a medium bowl. add chicken cubes and let marinate. (we put this together quickly and 10 minutes was great- though an hour will add more flavor). cut the veggies while the chicken marinates. 

heat the grill and brush with a little bit of oil to prevent sticking. alternate threading the veggies and chicken on the skewers. cook about 7 minutes on each side, until cooked through. you can also broil these, a few minutes on each side! enjoy!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

chicken rolls

these little babies include shredded chicken, matchstick carrots, celery, bell peppers, and soy sauce - seasoned with ginger and garlic. heat some vegetable oil in a pan and deep fry. after drying off on paper towels, serve them on a bed of rice with peanut or soy dipping sauce!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

lime paprika chicken kabobs

lime paprika chicken kabobs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1.5 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

  • 4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 white onion, cut into squares
  • 1 green pepper, cut into squares

mix marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. add chicken, cover, and let marinate in the fridge for an hour. when ready to cook, heat the grill and brush with oil to prevent sticking. 

thread the chicken and veggies on the skewers, alternating. cook for about 7 minutes on each side, until cooked through. these can also be broiled for a few minutes on each side if you don't have a grill! 

goes great with corn and coleslaw for a grill out! serves 4. 

inspired by allrecipes

Sunday, May 30, 2010

fruit & curry chicken salad

chicken salad is one of my favorite sandwich's easy to make, you can mix it up, and you can make it the night before. this chicken salad is great on croissants or with pita bread. 

fruit & curry chicken salad

  • large can of chicken, shredded (about 1.5 cups worth)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 small apple - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (more if too dry) 

combine ingredients and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. serves 4-5. 

*adapted from

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

meal planning

i know, i know...long time no cook.

actually, i've been cooking. but, it's been pretty boring, as i'm getting ready to move and have basically been trying to use up everything.

in the meantime, i've been working on a little something called meal planning. not only is deciding what meals to make for the coming week efficient and money-saving: it's also a fun challenge! i've been printing out recipes and grouping them together based on common ingredients. i can't wait to start (really) cooking again and see how this all turns out.

here's an example. jeff challenged me to see who could have a less expensive week of meals: his usual ramen/chef boyardee/taco bell "college student fare" vs a meal plan. here's what i have so far!!

for starters, basic spaghetti noodles can be repurposed with basic tomato sauce; with olive oil; as noodles for stir fry, lo mein or pad thai; and in chicken noodle soup.

and all of those other ingredients? they can be reused too:
tomato sauce in homemade pizza; stir fry veggies on the pizza or in the soup; and olive oil is great on just about anything!

simple italian salad dressing can of course be used in a salad-- but it can also be used as a marinade for chicken!

those veggies from the stir fry? bell peppers and onions are fantastic for fajitas or quesadillas. and BOTH call for tortillas and cheese.

check it out. these meals are healthy, AND give you a great variety. but know what's even better? all of these ingredients are incredibly cheap! and when you buy them all at once at the grocery, you'll be saving money when you add up all of the college student meals. don't believe me? wait for the results of our exciting competition!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

southwestern veggie tacos with cilantro lime rice

corn and black beans have always been a major food staple in my kitchen. they are both really versatile and distinctive and also healthy! when you add tomatoes and green onions, characteristic elements of southwestern food come together to make something flavorful and always colorful.

southwestern veggie tacos
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 c onion, diced
1/8 c corn
1/8 c black beans
1/8 c rotel tomatoes (any flavor)
1.5 tbsp of juice from the rotel can
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 tsp cilantro
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbsp ranch dressing
cheddar cheese
2 tortillas

heat the oil on medium in a skillet. add garlic and onion until garlic sizzles. then add everything else (except cheese and tortillas!), stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes on medium-low. put half of the veggies in each tortilla and top with cheese. makes 2 tacos!

cilantro lime rice
lime juice
2 tsp cilantro
1/4 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp white sugar

cook 1 serving of rice according to instructions. right when it is ready, add the butter so it can melt while the rice is still warm. add a squirt of lime, the cilantro, and sugar. add more lime according to preference.

Monday, April 19, 2010

easy romano rigatoni

just put this together as i try to use up what i actually have in my kitchen!! it's a jazzed up version of the roman dish, spaghetti cacio e pepe, which uses pasta, romano cheese and black pepper.

romano rigatoni
2/3 cup rigatoni
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup onions, diced
1/3 cup diced tomatoes, seasoned with basil and oregano (i used some from a can of italian seasoned ones)
1/4 cup juice from the canned tomatoes
1 tbsp heavy whipped cream
romano cheese, grated

heat a small pot of water on high. when it boils, add the pasta and cook per instructions.

meanwhile, heat a skillet on medium-low. add olive oil, garlic, and onions. when the garlic starts to sizzle, add tomatoes and juice. liberally season with pepper. stir for 3 minutes. then add 1/8 cup romano cheese, let melt, and mix together.

by this time, the pasta should be cooked. strain, and pour pasta into a serving bowl. pour the sauce over pasta and top with a sprinkling of cheese. enjoy! serves 1.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

bbq chicken pizza

somehow, you can never go wrong with barbeque sauce. EVER! 

bbq chicken pizza
2 boxes corn muffin mix (ex: jiffy, 8.5 oz each)
2 eggs
3.5 tbsp butter, melted
1.5 cups milk
1 cup corn (can be frozen) 
spray on olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
dash salt
dash pepper
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp hot sauce
1 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1 bag (6 oz) cheddar cheese
2 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro

preheat oven to 400. 

combine the muffin mix, eggs, butter, milk, and corn in a bowl. spray a layer of olive oil in a skillet and wrap the handle of the skillet in foil (because it's going in the oven). pour in 3/4 of the batter and cook for 15 minutes, until golden brown. 

while the pizza base/crust cooks, chop the chicken into small pieces and cook over medium in the olive oil until fully cooked. use a spatula to cut the chicken into smaller pieces, about 1 inch in diameter. then add the garlic, onion, and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. then, add salt and pepper, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, and BBQ sauce. simmer on low for another 15 minutes. 

by now, the crust should be ready and slightly cooled. spread the BBQ chicken mixture over the cornbread crust and top with cheese. bake at 400 for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. top with green onions and cilantro and slice. serves 4. 

*adapted from rachel ray's Book of 10. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

pineapple stir fry

when my family made a trip to hawaii, we made sure to stop by the enormous pineapple plantations. maybe that's why i think "exotic" when i think of pineapples. they are one of my favorite fruits...sweet, juicy, and with a little tang. that must be why they go so well with just about anything, especially stir fry.

pineapple stir fry
1 serving brown rice
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup red bell peppers, diced
1/8 cup carrots, sliced or chopped 
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup pineapple chunks

cook rice according to instructions on package.

meanwhile, heat a small skillet on medium-low. add the soy sauce, onions, peppers, and carrots. after 3 minutes of sauteing, sprinkle on the pepper and drizzle in the honey. mix well.

keep cooking the veggies until the rice is fully cooked. add pineapple to skillet and mix for one minute. combine rice and veggie mix in a bowl and enjoy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

honey ginger stir fry

what i love about stir fry is that the options are endless! you can basically pick your veggies, meat, and sauce and every time it will be different. one time i was just throwing random things in (like honey for example, which i think confused some people) and out came this tangy, crunchy, and sweet dish.

honey ginger stir fry
vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/4th of a cabbage, cut (see here for help!)
2 green onions, cut into small pieces
2 celery stalks, diced
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup carrots
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup honey
1/4 tsp ginger
dash salt
1/2 tsp pepper

heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil on medium heat and add garlic until it sizzles. add cabbage for 3-4 minutes or until it cooks down. add green onion, celery, white onion, bell pepper, and carrots. saute for 5-6 minutes, adding oil as needed.

mix in peanuts. make a space in the pan and pour in the rest of the ingredients. (this is so the honey can get warm and mix better with the soy sauce). then mix with the vegetables for another few minutes.

serve over white rice, brown rice, rice noodles, unseasoned ramen noodles, flat pasta noodles...anything you like! serves 1-2.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

everything tortilla soup

i basically lived on this my sophomore year of college when we had a was the first recipe i made up on my own! it keeps really well, too!

everything tortilla soup 
1 clove garlic, minced
vegetable oil
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, sliced or diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 medium sized potatoes, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed thoroughly (at least 3 times)
1 can corn (pour out 1/2 of the juice)
1 can ROTEL (any version, keep juice)
dash salt
dash seasoned salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp lime or lemon juice

pour a thin layer of vegetable oil in a pot. heat pot over medium temperature, add garlic.

when garlic sizzles, add celery, carrots and onion. let onion become translucent (after a few minutes). then reduce heat to medium-low and add the rest of the ingredients.

after stirring for 5 minutes, reduce heat again to low, and let simmer with the lid on for at least 20 minutes.

*add water if you would like the consistency of your soup to be more liquidy-- i usually add a "can full" by filling the corn can with water to measure.

you can cook up some chicken ahead of time and shred it into small pieces and add to the soup once all of the other ingredients are in. let simmer and enjoy with chips! serves about 4.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

six layer tiramisu

the first tiramisu i tried was in cinque terre, italy, with my study abroad travel buddies. in such a rugged, open natural park, my remembrance of the food is, similarly, straightforward, classic, and for that reason simply stunning. tiramisu is just that: elegant without being pretentious.

for one of our reunion dinners, i decided to try and whip up a quality serving. most recipes are made for a cake-style dessert. why not modify them into cute little individual servings?

traditionally, this italian dessert uses ladyfingers, mascarpone (a sweet, creamy cheese), and rum and coffee flavors. my take on tiramisu uses a brick of angel food cake instead of ladyfingers (because i can't find any at the grocery!), less rum and flavored coffee. this recipe also needs to be made a day early for the flavors to chill, merge, and develop.

--> three parts of tiramisu
typically, there are three major aspects of the dessert: ladyfingers soaked in rum and coffee; a custard made of mascarpone and egg yolk; and a thick whipped cream. it's typically sprinkled with cocoa. wikipedia tells me there is a little controversy over the origins of the dessert, but a friend of mine revealed the origin of the name, "tirami su" to mean in italian "pick me up," which it certainly does! the original recipe allegedly used honey as an ingredient, so let's see how that goes-- why not!

six layer tiramisu
6 egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup almond milk
1 pound mascarpone cheese (found in the specialty cheese or italian food section in the grocery store; the brand i used was sold in tubs by the half pound)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup coffee (divided) (this means actual brewed coffee! so just order a basic cup of joe somewhere and bring it back to your place to go. any blend is good, i ordered a crème brûlée flavor, but make sure there's not a lot of creamer or milk added on)
1 + 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 tsp vanilla extract
angel food cake (i used a "brick" sized cake)
1 tbsp rum
1 tbsp amaretto
unsweetened cocoa powder
12 clear plastic punch cups

part A: mascarpone custard (allot an extra hour for this to chill!)
whisk egg yolks, sugar, and both milks together in a medium sized saucepan until blended.
heat over medium. stir constantly and bring to boil.
let boil gently for one minute, then remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes or so.
cover and chill in a plastic tub in the refrigerator for at least an HOUR.
after chilled, pour into a bowl and whisk in the mascarpone, honey, and 1/4 cup coffee until smooth.
refrigerate until you have completed the other parts.

part B: whipped cream
beat cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
--> try your best to time this JUST SO. when you get a sudden feeling of resistance from the cream, stop the beater and check the peaks. just lift the [turned off] beaters straight up from the mix. if there are literal peaks that stand on their own, congrats! if they are rounded or melt back down, you need to beat them some more.
set to the side or in the fridge until part C is complete.

part C: cake base
in a bowl, combine the rest of the coffee, rum, and amaretto.
slice and dice the angel food cake into one inch squares. i used about 7 squares per cup, so try for 90-100 just to be safe.
put the squares in another bowl, and pour the coffee sauce on top. the squares should soak up most of the liquids, but if not, stir them around to make sure everything is evenly coated.

now...time to layer! (note that what's listed first is what's on top!!)
(*) a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder
(6) a spoonful of whipped cream, spread
(5) a smaller dollop of mascarpone custard, spread
(4) 3-4 squares of angel food cake
(3) a spoonful of whipped cream, spread
(2) a large dollop of mascarpone custard, spread (see above photo for a dollop)
(1) 4 squares of angel food cake

let chill in the fridge for a day, covered with foil or saran wrap. should make about 12 servings. then serve and enjoy!

*recipe modified from here. i changed some ratios, added honey and amaretto, and made this a layered, individual serving recipe.

**make it your own: add almond extract, hazelnut syrup to the whipping cream and more amaretto instead of rum; add some seedless raspberry jam to the custard or raspberry syrup to the whipped cream; use maple syrup instead of honey.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

fruit and nut salad with brie and citrus viniagrette

i love using fruit in salads! pears are especially versatile. they have a sweetness that can temper a nice vinaigrette dressing, but also a gentle tartness that keeps a salad from becoming a dessert.

add in some sunflower seeds, which are always a great addition to a salad, and you've got a healthy, yummy salad indeed.

fruit and nut salad
1 head of lettuce
1/4 cup almonds, slivered
1/3 cup carrot sticks
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/8 cup honey roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup mandarin oranges, rinsed
1 pear, diced
brie cheese

rinse the lettuce, then rip off pieces and tear them into smaller salad-sized pieces. mix everything together except the oranges and pear. wait to dice and add until about ready to serve so the salad doesn't get soggy. serve with the following dressing, topped with small brie squares. serves about 8.

citrus vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup orange juice (no-pulp)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp pepper

*the dressing recipe came from this website, but the salad is pretty much something i threw together!

lemon basil tortellini salad

this pasta was a merger of two food experts, italy and greece. tortellini, the great stuffed pasta, hails from italy and is often served with cream sauce or soup. i have always liked tortellini, even by itself, but my love forever deepened when i discovered its comforting properties brought out by a ham and cream sauce on a rainy day in venice. on the other hand, the marinade for the chicken is inspired by a sunny day riding an ATV in santorini, greece, using major greek food ingredients (garlic, oregano, lemon).

how do we put them together? by merging! adding the traditional italian seasoning of basil into the marinade gives the chicken some depth, and sharing some lemony love (and olives) with the pasta brings out tangy flavors alongside the vegetables. and of course, a heaping dose of olive oil, which is adored by both countries.

lemon basil marinade
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2.5 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp oregano, chopped
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon

mix ingredients together in a large ziploc bag or plastic tupperware container. shake, and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours before cooking. to cook, drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a skillet on medium heat. cook each chicken breast in the oil for about 7 minutes each side, until lightly brown and fully cooked through. no lie, i threw these things together and this chicken was perfectly delicious!

tortellini salad
1 family size package of 4-cheese tortellini
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of olives, cut into small slices
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp basil, chopped
juice of one lemon

bring a pot of water to boil. add tortellini and cook for about 7 minutes (follow package instructions).

meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. add garlic, and when the garlic sizzles, add the onion and bell pepper pieces. cook for about 6 minutes. pour veggies and oil into a large bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients. stir well. add the cooked/strained tortellini and the chicken from above (cut into bite sized pieces) if you made it earlier.

with the chicken and veggies, this is enough for 6-7 people. i served it with the fruit and nut salad (see following post!) and easy to make what i call "banilla" cups.

banilla cups (aka banana pudding + vanilla wafers)
no-cook banana pudding mix
heavy whipping cream
mini vanilla wafers

follow the instructions on the pudding box, but instead of using all milk, use half milk and half whipping cream. whisk until it reaches a pudding-like consistency. use small clear plastic cups and layer with wafers and pudding! chill in the fridge until ready to serve. one small box of pudding should make enough for 5-6 servings.

Monday, February 15, 2010

chicken wrap adventures part 1

a tale of two chicken wraps!

chipotle chicken rolls
2 chicken breasts, shredded
5 green onions, sliced and chopped
1/5 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (or use chipotle salsa if you don't want it to be too spicy)
dash salt
dash pepper
6 sheets phyllo dough
spray on olive oil or butter

mix everything together in a bowl. transfer to a plastic bag and cut the tip of the bag (to use to squeeze the mixture out). place a sheet of dough in front of you on the counter, with the long side closest to you. spray a thin layer of oil or butter on top. then add a second sheet on top and spray again. then add a third sheet and spray again. now, squeeze a thick line of mix all the way across the sheet on the long side, but leave a little space along the edges. roll the entire long length away from you, then pinch the edges shut. place seam side down on a nonstick pan, and spray a thin layer of oil or butter on top. do the same for the rest of the mix!

bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. let cool for a minute, then cut each log into 4 pieces. serves about 3.

avocado dip
1 avocado
1.5 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

mash avocado, then mix the rest of the ingredients in. the original recipe called for a food processor, so if you have one and want this to be a smoother dip, go for it! just add a little more lime juice and olive oil too.

southwestern chicken wraps
1 chicken breast
2 tbsp corn (from a can)
2 tbsp black beans (from a can)
3 tbsp cheddar cheese
1 green onion stalk, diced into small pieces
2 tbsp carrot sticks
1/2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp barbeque sauce
2 tsp ranch dressing
dash salt
dash pepper
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
6 sheets phyllo dough
spray butter or spray olive oil

boil chicken in a small pot of water until cooked through (no pink). if you cut the chicken into smaller pieces, it will cook faster.

mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl while the chicken cooks. after chicken is cooked, shred it and add to the bowl.

follow the same steps as above, layering 3 phyllo sheets with butter or oil in between each, spreading half of the mix along the last sheet. then roll. make a second wrap roll with the remaining mix and phyllo sheets.

 this is how to spread the filling! set the rolls seam side down on a pan and spray with butter or oil. then bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (until golden brown). when slightly cooled, slice into 4 sections each. you can serve with different kinds of dip, including ranch, sour cream, guacamole, or my favorite "fiesta ranch dip" which is a dressing packet mixed with a 16 oz container of sour cream. serves 2-3!

*the first recipe is modified from a rachel ray's book of 10, and the second was inspired by the use of phyllo dough, but i made up the filling on my own.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

guacamole dip

guacamole dip
1 avocado
1.5 tsp lime juice
dash salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 can Rotel diced tomatoes, drained

mash up the avocado, then mix all the other ingredients in. makes enough for about 3 to munch on as a snack!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

raspberry fudge brownies

just in time for valentine's day! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


i love biscotti. usually i really enjoy baking sweets but don't often eat a lot of them...i like to give them away. but biscotti to me are nice and toasty and go well with coffee or hot chocolate. and, they're not too sweet. so i don't always give them away. :) they can also have a great variety of ingredients like the following:

white chocolate chips

macademia nuts


--> feasting fact: BISCOTTI
the name sounds like biscuit...and it is like a biscuit, although think of the Britishy hard style biscuits in this case. they are "twice-baked" cookies although i like to cook them...thrice. haha. basically you cook the whole slab of dough once as a cookie, and then you cook the sides to make the cookie harder and crunchier. i just like to make things even so i cook them on each side for a shorter period of time. the longer you cook, the crunchier the biscotto. (biscotto is singular; biscotti is plural)

white chocolate macademia biscotti
1 cup butter
1.5 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup almond slivers or slices

preheat oven to 325 degrees. spray two pans with nonstick cooking spray.
in a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. beat in eggs, vanilla and amaretto.

separately, stir flour, baking powder and salt. add to larger bowl.

add the "toppings": nuts, chocolate chips, and almonds.

divide dough in half. roll each into a log and set in the middle of the pan. (see below for size)


bake 20 minutes until light brown. let cool for and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices. (see below) let cool for a few minutes, then arrange slices on their sides and cook for 6 minutes. then flip each piece to its other side and cook for 6 more minutes. the cookie should be light golden brown.

here is how i sliced the bread after it's first jump out of the oven. see how it's slightly diagonal? simple enough.


--> feasting fact: mix and match!
you can make this recipe your own by adding different combinations of ingredients. pick two or three of the following, then follow the basic recipe above!

almond slivers or slices (1 cup)
butterscotch chips (1 cup)
cherries, dried (1 cup)
chocolate chips (1 cup)
cinnamon, ground (2 tsp)
cocoa powder, unsweetened (1/2 cup)
cranberries, dried (1 cup)
hazelnuts, chopped (1 cup)
macademia nuts, chopped (1 cup)
orange (1 tbsp orange zest + 2 tbsp orange liqueur or orange juice)
pine nuts (2/3 cup)
walnuts, chopped (1 cup)
white chocolate chips (1 cup)

you can also melt some chocolate and either drizzle it over the cookies or dip the end of the cookie into it. let cool and enjoy! this recipe makes about 30 biscotti cookies.

*this recipe is modified from one of my favorite sites yet again!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

you fool night

there's something comforting about desserts made with fruit. add sugar to that and we have a winner! my friend uses the expression "you fool!" all the time. (in a jesting manner, don't worry.) in honor of her, and our 1 year anniversary since leaving to study abroad, i hosted a "you fool" anniversary dessert party, where we made an english dessert that goes back to the 1600s called fool. it only has 3 ingredients and you can be creative with toppings!

--> feasting fact - JAM vs. JELLY:
jam is thick and made of pieces of fruit and pulp. it's more like a spread.
jelly is clear and is made of fruit juice, sugar and pectin. it is more likely to jiggle!

3 c. heavy cream
3 tbsp confectioners sugar
jam (i used a jar of strawberry and a jar of blackberry but as long as it doesn't have seeds and is not jelly, it's good)
berries (i used strawberries, sliced and blackberries)
granola (this isn't traditional but it's delicious on top if you like a crunch)

whisk or beat the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. it will feel like you are just stirring milk but after a few minutes it will thicken and you'll feel a little resistance as you stir. i used a whisk attachment on the electrical beater.

dollop about 1/4 c. of cream mix into clear stemmed glassware (or, if you're cheap like us, small clear punch cups) per person.

swirl in about 1/4 c. of jam per glass. add toppings as you like! this should yield about 12 servings with room for seconds. :)

*recipe adapted from martha stewart's website. i'm definitely going to try the infinitely more elaborate version next time!